Free radical research

Plant polyphenols mobilize nuclear copper in human peripheral lymphocytes leading to oxidatively generated DNA breakage: implications for an anticancer mechanism.

PMID 18661438


It was earlier proposed that an important anti-cancer mechanism of plant polyphenols may involve mobilization of endogenous copper ions, possibly chromatin-bound copper and the consequent pro-oxidant action. This paper shows that plant polyphenols are able to mobilize nuclear copper in human lymphocytes, leading to degradation of cellular DNA. A cellular system of lymphocytes isolated from human peripheral blood and comet assay was used for this purpose. Incubation of lymphocytes with neocuproine (a cell membrane permeable copper chelator) inhibited DNA degradation in intact lymphocytes. Bathocuproine, which is unable to permeate through the cell membrane, did not cause such inhibition. This study has further shown that polyphenols are able to degrade DNA in cell nuclei and that such DNA degradation is inhibited by neocuproine as well as bathocuproine (both of which are able to permeate the nuclear pore complex), suggesting that nuclear copper is mobilized in this reaction. Pre-incubation of lymphocyte nuclei with polyphenols indicates that it is capable of traversing the nuclear membrane. This study has also shown that polyphenols generate oxidative stress in lymphocyte nuclei which is inhibited by scavengers of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and neocuproine. These results indicate that the generation of ROS occurs through mobilization of nuclear copper resulting in oxidatively generated DNA breakage.

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