, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 147-170

Hydroxycinnamates and their in vitro and in vivo antioxidant activities

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Abstract

Hydroxycinnamates are among the most widely distributed plant phenylpropanoids present in the free, conjugated-soluble and insoluble-bound forms. This review will focus on the occurrence, in vitro and in vivo antioxidant activities of ferulic, coumaric, caffeic and sinapic acids and their derivatives. Hydroxycinnamates are found in almost all food groups though they are abundant in cereals, legumes, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables and beverages and render antioxidant activity by scavenging hydroxyl radical, superoxide radical anion, several organic radicals, peroxyl radical, peroxinitrite and singlet oxygen, among others. Further, their antioxidant activity as chain breaking antioxidants and reducing agents is also notable. Ferulic acid and its derivatives such as ferulic acid ethyl ester, ferulic acid dehydrodimers, feruloyl glycosides and curcumin have demonstrated potent antioxidant activity in both in vitro and in vivo systems. Similarly, caffeic acid and some of its derivatives such as caffeic acid phenethyl ester, rosmarinic acid, and chlorogenic acid exhibit antioxidant activity. The highest antioxidant activity was observed for caffeic acid whereas p-coumaric acid had the least effect among major hydroxycinnamic acids. The importance of structural effects on the potency of antioxidant activity of hydroxycinnamates is discussed. While this review also shows the existence of substantial body of evidences for in vitro antioxidant activity of hydroxycinnamates, there is a clear gap for in vivo information, particularly for sinapic and p-coumaric acids and their derivatives. The role of grains, fruits, vegetables and red wine in disease risk reduction and health promotion could partly be attributed to their constituent hydroxycinnamates.