The Antioxidant Activity of Quercetin in Water Solution

Biomimetics (Basel). 2017 Jun 27;2(3):9. doi: 10.3390/biomimetics2030009.


Despite its importance, little is known about the absolute performance and the mechanism for quercetin's antioxidant activity in water solution. We have investigated this aspect by combining differential oxygen-uptake kinetic measurements and B3LYP/6311+g (d,p) calculations. At pH = 2.1 (30 °C), quercetin had modest activity (kinh = 4.0 × 103 M-1 s-1), superimposable to catechol. On raising the pH to 7.4, reactivity was boosted 40-fold, trapping two peroxyl radicals in the chromen-4-one core and two in the catechol with kinh of 1.6 × 105 and 7.0 × 104 M-1 s-1. Reaction occurs from the equilibrating mono-anions in positions 4' and 7 and involves firstly the OH in position 3, having bond dissociation enthalpies of 75.0 and 78.7 kcal/mol, respectively, for the two anions. Reaction proceeds by a combination of proton-coupled electron-transfer mechanisms: electron⁻proton transfer (EPT) and sequential proton loss electron transfer (SPLET). Our results help rationalize quercetin's reactivity with peroxyl radicals and its importance under biomimetic settings, to act as a nutritional antioxidant.

Keywords: catechol; kinetics; mechanisms; peroxyl radicals; proton-coupled electron transfer; thermodynamics.