Two major betalains, red-purple betacyanins and yellow betaxanthins, were isolated from red beetroots (Beta vulgaris L.), and their peroxynitrite (ONOO(-)) scavenging capacity was investigated. Apparent colours of the betalains were bleached by the addition of ONOO(-), and the absorbance decreases were suppressed in the presence of glutathione, a ONOO(-) scavenger. After bleaching, a new absorption maximum was observed at 350 nm in the spectrum of the resulting reaction mixture. New peaks were detected from HPLC analysis of the reaction products of betanin, a representative constituent of red beetroot betacyanins, treated with ONOO(-) monitoring at 350 nm, and the intensity of the major peak was positively correlated with ONOO(-) concentration. Betanin inhibited the ONOO(-) (0.5 mM)-dependent nitration of tyrosine (0.1 mM). Additionally, the IC(50) value of betanin (19.2 μM) was lower than that of ascorbate (79.6 μM). The presence of betanin (0.05-1.0 mM) also inhibited ONOO(-) (0.5 mM)-dependent DNA strand cleavage in a concentration-dependent manner. These results suggest that betalains can protect cells from nitrosative stress in addition to protecting them from oxidative stresses.
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