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Free Radic Biol Med. 1997;22(5):861-70.

Complexes of iron with phenolic compounds from soybean nodules and other legume tissues: prooxidant and antioxidant properties.

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Departamento de NutriciĆ³n Vegetal, EstaciĆ³n Experimental de Aula Dei, CSIC, Zaragoza, Spain.


The low-molecular-mass fraction of the soybean nodule cytosol contains Fe capable of catalyzing free radical production through Fenton chemistry. A large portion of the pool of catalytic Fe, measured as bleomycin-detectable Fe, was characterized as complexes of Fe with phenolic compounds of three classes: phenolic acids, cinnamic acids, and flavonoids. Many of these compounds, along with other phenolics present in legume tissues, were used for a systematic structure-activity relationship study. All phenolics tested were able to chelate Fe, as judged from their inhibitory effect on site-specific deoxyribose degradation (minus EDTA assay). However, only those having catechol, pyrogallol, or 3-hydroxy-4-carbonyl groupings were potent chelators and reductants of Fe3+ at pH 5.5. The same phenolics promoted oxidative damage to DNA (bleomycin assay) and to deoxyribose (plus EDTA assay), but inhibited linolenic acid peroxidation by chelating and reducing Fe3+ and by neutralizing lipid radicals. Also, phenolics having a pyrogallol nucleus attenuated the free radical-mediated inactivation of glutamine synthetase, which was used as a model system, by chelating Fe2+. It is reasoned that under the microaerobic (10-20 nM O2) and acidic (pH 5.5-6.4) conditions prevailing in nodules, phenolics are likely to act primarily as antioxidants, decreasing oxidative damage to biomolecules.

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