Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
To assess the possible physiological function of chlorogenic acid (CGA, 3-O-caffeoylquinic acid) in vivo, we characterized the free radical scavenging properties of pure phenylpropanoids and leaf extracts against two free radicals, superoxide and the 2,2’-azinobis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS) radical cation. CGA was found to be a highly efficient scavenger of these free radicals, surpassing the activity of all other phenylpropanoids tested, as well as the ‘classical’ antioxidant ascorbate. Seasonal differences in the leaf content of CGA were examined in field populations of the broadleaf evergreen Mahonia repens growing in different light environments. Leaves of fully sun-exposed plants contained significantly more (74 ± 10 mmol m–2) CGA in winter than leaves from plants growing under deeply shaded conditions (17 ± 2 mmol m–2). Sun-acclimated, but not shade-acclimated, leaves also produced high levels of anthocyanins in winter, suggesting a simultaneous increase in carbon flow through the phenylpropanoid and flavonoid pathways in response to high light and seasonal low temperature stress. In summer, high light-acclimated leaves contained ≈ 2-fold less CGA than in winter, whereas CGA levels were similar between seasons in shaded leaves. Consistent with the strong scavenging capacity of CGA measured in vitro, a linear correlation was observed between CGA content and the antioxidant activity of leaf extracts in both scavenging assays. On the basis of these results, we propose that CGA is a powerful hydrogen-donating antioxidant that may play an important role in mitigating the effects of oxidative stress in plants.
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