Correlation between mammalian cell cytotoxicity of flavonoids and the redox potential of phenoxyl radical/phenol couple
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Flavonoids exhibit prooxidant cytotoxicity in mammalian cells due to the formation of free radicals and oxidation products possessing quinone or quinomethide structure. However, it is unclear how the cytotoxicity of flavonoids depends on the ease of their single-electron oxidation in aqueous medium, i.e., the redox potential of the phenoxyl radical/phenol couple. We verified the previously calculated redox potentials for several flavonoids according to their rates of reduction of cytochrome c and ferricyanide, and proposed experimentally-based values of redox potentials for myricetin, fisetin, morin, kaempferol, galangin, and naringenin. We found that the cytotoxicity of flavonoids (n=10) in bovine leukemia virus-transformed lamb kidney fibroblasts (line FLK) and murine hepatoma (line MH-22a) increases with a decrease in their redox potential of the phenoxyl radical/phenol couple and an increase in their lipophilicity. Their cytotoxicity was decreased by antioxidants and inhibitors of cytochromes P-450, α-naphthoflavone and isoniazide, and increased by an inhibitor of catechol-O-methyltransferase, 3,5-dinitrocatechol. It shows that although the prooxidant action of flavonoids may be the main factor in their cytotoxicity, the hydroxylation and oxidative demethylation by cytochromes P-450 and O-methylation by catechol-O-methyltransferase can significantly modulate the cytotoxicity of the parent compounds.
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