The interaction of flavonoids with membranes: Potential determinant of flavonoid antioxidant effects

A. G. Erlejman, S. V. Verstraeten, C. G. Fraga, P. I. Oteiza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Twenty six phenolic substances including representatives of the families, flavanones, flavanols and procyanidins, flavonols, isoflavones, phenolic acids and phenylpropanones were investigated for their effects on lipid oxidation, membrane fluidity and membrane integrity. The incubation of synthetic phosphatidylcholine (PC) liposomes in the presence of these phenolics caused the following effects: (a) flavanols, their related procyanidins and flavonols were the most active preventing 2,2′-azo-bis (2,4-dimethylvaleronitrile) (AMVN)-induced 2-thiobarituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS) formation, inducing lipid ordering at the water-lipid interface, and preventing Triton X-100-induced membrane disruption; (b) all the studied compounds inhibited lipid oxidation induced by the water-soluble oxidant 2,2′ -azo-bis (2-amidinopropane) (AAPH), and no family-related effects were observed. The protective effects of the studied phenolics on membranes were mainly associated to the hydrophilicity of the compounds, the degree of flavanol oligomerization, and the number of hydroxyl groups in the molecule. The present results support the hypothesis that the chemical structure of phenolics conditions their interactions with membranes. The interactions of flavonoids with the polar head groups of phospholipids, at the lipid-water interface of membranes, should be considered among the factors that contribute to their antioxidant effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1311-1320
Number of pages10
JournalFree Radical Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Fluidity
  • Lipid oxidation
  • Membrane physical properties
  • Membranes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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