Polyphenols, inflammatory response, and cancer prevention: chlorination of isoflavones by human neutrophils

T D'Alessandro, J Prasain, MR Benton, Nigel Peter Botting, R Moore, V Darley-Usmar, R Patel, S Barnes

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58 Citations (Scopus)


An important aspect of the risk of cancer is the involvement of the inflammatory response. Currently, anti inflammatory agents are used in chemopreventive strategies. For example, aspirin is recommended for the prevention of colon cancer as well as breast and other cancers. The inflammatory response involves the production of cytokines and proinflammatory oxidants such as hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and peroxynitrite (ONO2-) produced by neutrophils and macrophages, respectively. These oxidants react with phenolic tyrosine residues on proteins to form chloro- and nitrotyrosine. Diets rich in polyphenols (green tea catechins, soy isoflavones) have also been shown to be chemopreventive. The aromatic nature of polyphenols makes them potential targets of HOCl and ONO2-. These reactions may create novel pharmacophores at the site of inflammation. Previous studies in the neutrophil-like cell line, differentiated HL-60 cells, demonstrated the formation of chlorinated and nitrated isoflavones. In this study we have examined whether similar reactions occur in freshly isolated human neutrophils. After induction of a respiratory burst with a phorbol ester, isoflavones and their metabolites were identified by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and then quantitatively measured by LC-mass spectrometry using multiple-reaction ion monitoring. The data obtained indicate that both chlorinated and nitrated genistein are formed by human neutrophils. The extent of chlorination of genistein was markedly increased by the phorbol ester whereas the low level of nitration of genistein was constitutive and unaffected. These data imply a potential role for modified forms of genistein that would be produced in the inflammatory environment in and around a tumor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3773S-3777S
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number11 (Suppl 1)
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


  • polyphenols
  • genistein
  • neutrophils
  • chlorination
  • nitration


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