Quercetin (Q) is a bioactive compound with excellent antioxidant activity. However, the thiol reactivity of its oxidation product (oxQ) forms a disadvantage. The aim of the present study was to decrease this thiol toxicity. We found that methylated Q metabolites displayed lower thiol reactivity than Q. The most effective was tamarixetin, 4'O-methylquercetin (4'MQ), that has a corresponding oxidation product (ox4'MQ) with thiol reactivity 350 times lower than oxQ. The endogenous metabolism of Q to 4'MQ might be a physiological way to safely benefit from the antioxidant potential of Q in vivo. Our results were explained with Pearson's HSAB concept and corroborated by quantum molecular calculations that revealed a strong correlation between the relative thiol reactivity and the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO). The polarity of the molecule and the pi-pi interaction between the AC- and the B-ring appeared to determine the LUMO and the thiol reactivity of the oxidation product.
Moalin, M., van Strijdonck, G. P., Bast, A., & Haenen, G. R. M. M. (2012). Competition between Ascorbate and Glutathione for the Oxidized Form of Methylated Quercetin Metabolites and Analogues: Tamarixetin, 4'O-Methylquercetin, Has the Lowest Thiol Reactivity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 60(36), 9292-9297. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf302068v