Four epicatechins [(−)-epicatechin (EC), (−)-epicatechin gallate (ECg), (−)-epigallocatechin (EGC), (−)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg)] and their corresponding copper complexes were compared with regard to their effect on the viability of Caco-2 colon cancer cells in vitro, measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthyazol-2-yl) 2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. The viability of Caco-2 cells exposed to EC (1 mM), ECg (1 mM) or EGC (1mM) respectively, for 30 min, was comparable to that of the saline control group, while EGCg (1 mM) apparently enhanced cellular activity. in contrast, the cells treated with epicatechin-copper complexes were killed. Bivalent copper 91 mM), in similar conditions, did not affect the cells. No cell leakage or other histological differences were observed, implying a rapid cell death. The suggested mechanism of killing is by OH radical attack, produced in the presence of epicatechin-copper complexes, but not in the presence of either of the epicatechins or copper alone. The reaction sites are discussed.
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