Phytochemical Betacyanins the Natural Free Radical Scavengers

By Kyle J. Norton

Oxidative stress is a medical condition caused the unbalanced ratio of the levels of free radical and antioxidant enzymes produced by the host.

In fact, free radicals exist everywhere including the airs we breathe, the thing we eat and the environment we contact, particularly, cell metabolism in the body.

Epidemiologically, overexpression of free radicals has been found to induce damage to the cell, lipid, proteins, and alternation of cell DNA, leading to chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and particularly, cancer.
Other diseases such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, peripheral artery disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity are also found in patients with oxidative stress.
In spite of free radicals harmful effects, one must understand that cellular oxygen species (ROS), are necessary with a moderate amount to protect our body in the mediation of antimicrobial infection, detoxification of potentially toxic compounds, and elimination of cancerous and other life-threatening cells through cytotoxicity.

Free radicals are unstable atoms with unpair of electrons on the out ring of molecules. Therefore,  in order for them to become stable, they constantly seek to donate or intercept the electron from other stable atoms, leading to a chain reaction that can not be stopped until all unpaired electrons are paired or inhibited by antioxidants.

Antioxidants are stable molecules which inhibit free radicals.

Free radicals such as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase, myeloperoxidase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase and antioxidants such as glutathione peroxidase, catalase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD) also act on specific oxidative pathways involving both pro-oxidant and antioxidant enzymes to maintain the healthy ratio in the body.

Normally, in a healthy individual, antioxidant enzymes produced by the liver are more than enough to counter levels of free radicals in the body. However, for people with weakened immune system intake of dietary antioxidant or antioxidant supplement may be necessary.

Dr. Pignatelli P. the lead scientist in the investigation of the relationship between oxidative stress and antioxidants in CVD wrote, ” 1) the most relevant enzyme systems involved in the formation and detoxification of ROS, 2) the relationship between oxidative stress and cardiovascular risk, and 3) therapeutic implications to modulate oxidative stress”.

In other words, by understanding the interaction of free radicals and antioxidant, diseases associated with oxidative stress may be preventable.

Betacyanins are phytochemicals in the class of red and yellow indole-derived pigments, belonging to the group of Betalains, found abundantly in beets, chard, etc.

With an aim to find a potential compound for the treatment of diseases associated with oxidative stress, researchers assessed the antioxidant capacity of betacyanins as indole-derived plant pigments, such as betanin, phyllocactin and betanidin.

According to the tested from the peroxyl radical generating system, betacyanins exerted a significant peroxyl radical scavenging capacity at a dose-dependent in the low concentration range (25-100 nM).

In chemical analysis, betanidin, betanin, and phyllocactin demonstrated the antioxidant capacity at the order of 10.70, 3.31 and 2.83 mol-TEA/mol-compound respectively.

The IC₅₀ values (μM) of nitrogen radical scavenging activity of betanin, phyllocactin and betanidin.was 24.48, 17.51 and 6.81, respectively.

In other words, betanidin was the strongest antioxdant that exerted radical scavenging activity compared to those of betanin, and phyllocactin.  

Furthermore, expression of free radical NO was reduced by the administration of betacyanin in the low concentration range of 2.5-20 μM.

Based on the results, researchers said, “These results indicated that betacyanins have a strong antioxidant capacity, particularly betanidin with a catechol group had higher activity than those of the glycoside of betacyanins”.
 And, “This study demonstrated that the betacyanins will be useful as natural pigments to provide defense against oxidative stress”.

Taken altogether, betacyanins may be considered a remedy for the prevention and treatment of diseases associated with oxidative stress, pending to the confirmation of the larger sample size and multicenter human study.

Intake of betacyanins in the form of supplement should be taken with extreme care to prevent overdose acute liver toxicity.

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Author Biography
Kyle J. Norton (Scholar, Master of Nutrition, All right reserved)

Health article writer and researcher; Over 10.000 articles and research papers have been written and published online, including worldwide health, ezine articles, article base, health blogs, self-growth, best before it’s news, the karate GB daily, etc.,.
Named TOP 50 MEDICAL ESSAYS FOR ARTISTS & AUTHORS TO READ by Named 50 of the best health Tweeters Canada – Huffington Post
Nominated for shorty award over last 4 years
Some articles have been used as references in medical research, such as international journal Pharma and Bioscience, ISSN 0975-6299.

(1) Betacyanins from Portulaca oleracea L. ameliorate cognition deficits and attenuate oxidative induced by D-galactose in the brains of senescent mice by Chang-Quan Wang, and Gui-Qin Yang. (Research Gate)
(2) Antioxidant capacity of betacyanins as radical scavengers for peroxyl radical and nitric oxide by Taira J1, Tsuchida E2, Katoh MC2, Uehara M2, Ogi T. (PubMed)
(3) Oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease: new insights by Pignatelli P1, Menichelli D, Pastori D, Violi F. (PubMed)