The antioxidant properties of caffeic and ferulic acids in biological systems have been extensively
demonstrated. As antioxidants, these compounds prevent the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which
cause cell lesions that are associated with the development of several diseases, including cancer. Recent findings
suggest that the chemoprotective action of these phenolic acids occurs through the following mechanisms: regulation
of gene expression, chelation and / or reduction of transition metals, formation of covalent adducts and direct
toxicity. The biological efficacy of these promising chemoprotective agents is strongly related with their chemical
structure. Therefore, in this study, we discuss the structural characteristics of ferulic and caffeic acids that are
responsible for their biological activities, as well as the mechanisms of action involved with the anti-cancer activity.
Several reports indicated that the antioxidant effect of these phenylpropanoids results from reactions with free
radicals with formation of stable products in the cells. The chelating effect of these compounds was also reported
as an important protective mechanism against oxidative. Finally, the lipophilicity of these agents facilitates their
entry into the cells, and thus, contributes to the anticancer activity.
Keywords: Caffeic acid, ferulic acid, chemical structure, antioxidant activity, anticancer activity, phenolic acids.
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