Kynurenines, the main products of tryptophan catabolism, possess both prooxidant and anioxidant effects. Having multiple neuroactive properties, kynurenines are implicated in the development of neurological and cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases. Autoxidation of 3-hydroxykynurenine (3HOK) and its derivatives, 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid (3HAA) and xanthommatin (XAN), leads to the hyperproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which damage cell structures. At the same time, 3HOK and 3HAA have been shown to be powerful ROS scavengers. Their ability to quench free radicals is believed to result from the presence of the aromatic hydroxyl group which is able to easily abstract an electron and H-atom. In this study, the redox properties for kynurenines and several natural and synthetic antioxidants have been calculated at different levels of density functional theory in the gas phase and water solution. Hydroxyl bond dissociation enthalpy (BDE) and ionization potential (IP) for 3HOK and 3HAA appear to be lower than for xanthurenic acid (XAA), several phenolic antioxidants, and ascorbic acid. BDE and IP for the compounds with aromatic hydroxyl group are lower than for their precursors without hydroxyl group. The reaction rate for H donation to *O-atom of phenoxyl radical (Ph-O*) and methyl peroxy radical (Met-OO*) decreases in the following rankings: 3HOK ~ 3HAA > XAAOXO > XAAENOL. The enthalpy absolute value for Met-OO* addition to the aromatic ring of the antioxidant radical increases in the following rankings: 3HAA* < 3HOK* < XAAOXO* < XAAENOL*. Thus, the high free radical scavenging activity of 3HAA and 3HOK can be explained by the easiness of H-atom abstraction and transfer to O-atom of the free radical, rather than by Met-OO* addition to the kynurenine radical.
Zhuravlev, A. V., Zakharov, G. A., Shchegolev, B. F., & Savvateeva-Popova, E. V. (2016). Antioxidant Properties of Kynurenines: Density Functional Theory Calculations. PLoS Computational Biology, 12(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005213