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  • Author: Miroslav Veverka x
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Quantitative Structure-Antioxidant Activity Relationship of Quercetin and its New Synthetised Derivatives

Interest in the biological activity of the flavonoids increases due to the potential health benefits of these polyphenolic components of foodstuff. Our research investigates biological properties of the flavonoids and their new synthetized derivatives, focuses on the relationship between their antioxidant activity and their chemical structures.

Quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) attempts to correlate chemical structure with biological activity using statistical approaches. It is the process by which chemical structure of a molecule is quantitatively correlated with a well defined process, such as biological activity, that can be expressed quantitatively as the concentration of a substance required to give a certain biological response. When physicochemical properties or structures are expressed by numbers, the mathematical relation can be formed between the two. The mathematical expression can then be used to predict the biological response of other chemical compounds.

QSARs represent predictive models derived from application of statistical tools correlating antioxidant activity (including desirable therapeutic effect and undesirable side effects) of chemicals with descriptors representative of molecular structure and properties. Obtaining a good QSAR model depends on many factors, such as the quality of biological data, the choice of descriptors and statistical methods. Any QSAR modeling should ultimately lead to statistically robust models capable of making accurate and reliable predictions of biological activities of new untested compounds.


Novel quercetin derivatives were prepared to change its physicochemical properties and effects on activity of proteolytic enzymes. For them preparation, the selective protection procedures some of the quercetin hydroxyl groups and acylation of the others with acylchlorides were used. The ability of these compounds to inhibit the activity of serine proteases e.g. trypsin, thrombin, urokinase and elastase was studied. In micromolar range, tested derivatives were the most potent inhibitors of thrombin. There was estimated better inhibition of thrombin for prenylated, acetylated, feruloyl and caffeoyl quercetin esters. Slight inhibitory effect of all quercetin derivatives on elastase was found. Among tested derivatives only diquercetin displayed better inhibiton. Trypsin and urokinase were inhibited by quercetin at comparable level. Slight improvement in inhibitory effect of trypsin and urokinase was seen for chloronaphtoquinone quercetin that revealed enhanced inhibiton of thrombin, too. However, no influence on elastase activity was determined for this compound. Obtained results indicate that certain modifications of quercetin structure could improve its biological properties.


The group of 21 novel semi-synthetic derivatives of quercetin was screened for the antiradical efficiency in a DPPH assay. The initial fast absorbance decrease of DPPH, corresponding to the transfer of the most labile H atoms, was followed by a much slower absorbance decline representing the residual antiradical activity of the antioxidant degradation products. Initial velocity of DPPH decolorization determined for the first 75-s interval was used as a marker of the antiradical activity. Application of the kinetic parameter allowed good discrimination between the polyphenolic compounds studied. The most efficient chloronaphthoquinone derivative (compound Ia) was characterized by antiradical activity higher than that of quercetin and comparable with that of trolox. Under the experimental conditions used, one molecule of Ia was found to quench 2.6±0.1 DPPH radicals.


Sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) is the pump crucial for calcium homeostasis and its impairment results in pathologies such as myopathy, heart failure or diabetes. Modulation of SERCA activity may represent an approach to the therapy of diseases with SERCA impairment involvment. Quercetin is flavonoid known to modulate SERCA activity. We examined the effect of nine novel quercetin derivatives on the activity of the pump. We found that 5-morpholinohydroxypoxyquercetin, di(prenylferuoyl)quercetin, di(diacetylcaffeoyl)-mono-(monoacetylcaffeoyl)quercetin and monoacetylferuloylquercetin stimulated the activity of SERCA. On the contrary, monochloropivaloylquercetin, tri(chloropivaloyl)quercetin, pentaacetylquercetin, tri(trimethylgalloyl)quercetin and diquercetin inhibited the activity of the pump. To identify compounds with a potential to protect SERCA against free radicals, we assessed the free radical scavenging activity of quercetin derivatives. We also related lipophilicity, an index of the ability to incorporate into the membrane of sarcoplasmic reticulum, to the modulatury effect of quercetin derivatives on SERCA activity. In addition to its ability to stimulate SERCA, di(prenylferuloyl)quercetin showed excellent radical scavenging activity.


Quercetin is a natural polyphenol with proven health beneficial activities. In this study 15 new quercetin derivatives were prepared with the aim to enhance their bioavailability. Modification of their physicochemical properties could herewith improve the action in cells. The prepared compounds were tested for their antioxidant and cytotoxic activity. The ability to scavenge free radicals as well as ferric reducing antioxidant power of the new derivatives was not better than that of unmodified quercetin. But for acetylated esters a better cytotoxic activity was found on human cervical cancer cells HeLa than for the initial molecule. The best effect revealed chloronaphtoquinone quercetin (IC50=13.2 μM). For this compound comparable cytotoxic action on non-cancer murine fibroblast cells was detected (IC50=16.5 μM). The obtained results indicate that appropriate lipophilization of the quercetin molecule could improve its cytotoxic action in cells, probably due to its enhanced bioavailability