The effect of catechol O-methylation on radical scavenging characteristics of quercetin and luteolin--a mechanistic insight

Free Radic Res. 2004 Jun;38(6):639-47. doi: 10.1080/10715760410001694062.


The biological effect of flavonoids can be modulated in vivo due to metabolism. The O-methylation of the catechol group in the molecule by catechol O-methyl transferase is one of the important metabolic pathways of flavonoids. In the present study, the consequences of catechol O-methylation for the pH-dependent radical scavenging properties of quercetin and luteolin were characterized both experimentally and theoretically. Comparison of the pKa values to the pH-dependent TEAC profiles reveals that O-methylation not only affects the TEAC as such but also modulates the effect of changing pH on this radical scavenging activity due to an effect on the pKa for deprotonation. The pH-dependent TEAC curves and computer calculated electronic parameters: bond dissociation energy (BDE) and ionisation potential (IP) even indicate that O-methylation of the luteolin catechol group affects the radical scavenging potential only because it shifts the pKa for deprotonation. O-Methylation of the quercetin catechol moiety affects radical scavenging capacity by both an effect on the pKa, and also by an effect on the electron and hydrogen atom donating properties of the neutral (N) and the anionic (A) form of the molecule. Moreover, O-methylation of a catechol OH-group in quercetin and luteolin has a similar effect on their TEAC profiles and on calculated parameters as replacement of the OH-group by a hydrogen atom. Altogether, the results presented provide new mechanistic insight in the effect of catechol O-methylation on the radical scavenging characteristics of quercetin and luteolin.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Apigenin / chemistry
  • Apigenin / metabolism
  • Catechols / chemistry*
  • Catechols / metabolism
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Free Radical Scavengers / chemistry*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / metabolism
  • Hydrogen / chemistry
  • Hydrogen / metabolism
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Kaempferols / chemistry
  • Kaempferols / metabolism
  • Luteolin / chemistry*
  • Luteolin / metabolism
  • Methylation
  • Molecular Structure
  • Quercetin / chemistry*
  • Quercetin / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Catechols
  • Flavonoids
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Kaempferols
  • kaempferol
  • Apigenin
  • Hydrogen
  • Quercetin
  • Luteolin
  • catechol