Background: Aromatic amino acid-based surfactants have been found to have interesting
biological properties such as antibacterial and hemolytic activities. Recently, we have reported the antibacterial
activity of a range of ester hydrochloride surfactants derived from L-Phenylalanine and LTyrosine.
This study aims at assessing the antioxidant, α-glycosidase inhibitory and cytotoxic activities
of a series of L-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine ester hydrochlorides. Molecular docking and BSA binding
studies were also carried out in order to investigate their potential therapeutic targets.
Methods: L-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine surfactants were tested as potential lipophilic antioxidants
using the DPPH and ABTS assays. These surfactants were also tested for their α-glycosidase inhibitory
activity using 4-nitrophenyl α -D-glucopyranoside (pNPG) as substrate. Their cytotoxicity effects were
screened using HeLa and KB cell lines. Glide version 5.7 as implemented in Schrödinger suite 2013-1,
was used for performing docking studies of L-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine dodecyl esters. The interaction
of the ester hydrochlorides of L-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine with bovine serum albumin (BSA)
was investigated using fluorometric titration.
Results: The presence of the phenolic moiety in L-Tyrosine-based surfactants was found to enhance the
antioxidant and α-glucosidase inhibitory activities compared to the L-Phenylalanine derivatives. The α-
glucosidase and anticancer activities of the phenylalanine surfactants were found to increase with chain
length up to C12 above which the activities exhibited a downward trend. In the case of the tyrosine series,
an increase in chain length from C8 to C14 was found to decrease the α-glucosidase inhibitory
activity and increase the anticancer activity of the surfactants. Binding studies with bovine serum albumin
showed that the tyrosine surfactants displayed greater affinity for the serum albumin, owing to the
presence of the phenolic group which altered the orientation of the surfactant molecule within the hydrophobic
core of BSA.
Conclusion: L-Tyrosine esters having a phenolic moiety were found to possess enhanced biological
activity in terms of both the antioxidant and antidiabetic activities as well as also bind more strongly to
Bovine serum albumin. Molecular docking studies of the phenylalanine and tyrosine surfactants of similar
chain length with target proteins showed direct correlation with their anticancer and antidiabetic
activity. Therefore, the findings show that these aromatic based surfactants derived from L-Tyrosine can
act as promising antioxidant, antidiabetic and anticancer agents, and they can also be efficiently transported
and eliminated in the body, making them useful candidates for drug designs.