Creating antioxidants by oxidation catalysis

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Science  18 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6194, pp. 270-271
DOI: 10.1126/science.1257347

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Tocopherols are naturally occurring fat-soluble antioxidants that protect living cells against highly reactive free radicals. The best-known example is D-α-tocopherol, the most biologically active ingredient in vitamin E. Their potent antioxidative properties result from the 6-hydroxy chroman (6-chromanol) motif, which is a hidden hydroquinone. The 6-chromanol unit readily reacts with fatty acid peroxide radicals to give stabilized chromanoxyl radicals and far less reactive hydroperoxides (1); both intermediates can then be degraded by the cell safely. Because of their unique antioxidative properties, tocopherols are widely used components in human and animal nutrition additives. On page 291 of this issue, Uyanik et al. (2) report a low-cost synthesis method for making tocopherols with high biological activity.