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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2010 Sep 1;501(1):23-30. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Apr 11.

Antioxidant actions of flavonoids: thermodynamic and kinetic analysis.

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Physical Chemistry-PRALIB, School of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Buenos Aires-CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The benefits of flavonoids on human health are very often ascribed to their potential ability to act diminishing free radical steady state concentration in biological systems providing antioxidant protection. This is an assumption based on the chemical structures of flavonoids that support their capacity to scavenge free radicals and chelate redox-active metals. In this paper we will use thermodynamic and kinetic approaches to analyze the interactions of flavonoids with biological material and from there, extrapolate the physiological relevance of their antioxidant actions. Thermodynamic analysis predicts that both, scavenging of oxygen-derived radicals and the sequestration of redox-active metals are energetically favored. Nevertheless, the actual concentrations reached by flavonoids in most animal and human tissues following dietary ingestion are incompatible with the kinetic requirements necessary to reach reaction rates of physiological relevance. This incompatibility becomes evident when compared to other antioxidant compounds, e.g. alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), ascorbate (vitamin C), and glutathione. Alternatively, lipid-flavonoid and protein-flavonoid interactions can indirectly mediate a decrease in oxidant (free radical) production and/or oxidative damage to both cell and extracellular components. The final mechanisms mediating the antioxidant actions of flavonoid will be determined by their actual concentration in the tissue under consideration.

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