Embelin, a plant natural product found in Lysimachia punctata (Primulaceae), and Embelia ribes Burm (Myrsinaceae) fruit, possesses interesting biological and pharmacological properties. It is a unique chemical species as it includes both quinone and hydroquinone functional groups plus a long hydrophobic tail. By using hydrodynamic voltammetry, which generates the superoxide radical in situ, we show an unusual scavenging capability by embelin. Embelin as a scavenger of superoxide is stronger than the common food additive antioxidant 2,6-bis(1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-20 methylphenol, (butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT). In fact, embelin is even able to completely abolish the superoxide radical in the voltaic cell. Computational results indicate that two different types of embelin scavenging actions may be involved, initially through π–π interaction and followed by proton capture in the cell. A related mechanism describes embelin’s ability to circumvent superoxide leaking by transforming the anion radical into molecular oxygen. In order to confirm its antioxidant properties, its biological activity was tested in a study carried out in THP-1 human leukemic monocytes and BV-2 mice microglia. A 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, proliferation curves and antioxidant activity by the use of a fluorescent probe showed good antioxidant properties at 24 h. This suggests that embelin’s long alkyl C10 tail may be useful for cell membrane insertion which stimulates the antioxidant defense system, and cytoprotection in microglia. In conclusion, embelin could be an interesting pharmacological tool able to decrease the damage associated with metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases.
Caruso, F., Rossi, M., Kaur, S., Garcia-Villar, E., Molasky, N., Belli, S., et al. (2020). Antioxidant Properties of Embelin in Cell Culture. Electrochemistry and Theoretical Mechanism of Scavenging. Potential Scavenging of Superoxide Radical through the Cell Membrane. ANTIOXIDANTS, 9(5), 382 [10.3390/antiox9050382].