Carotenoids: Importance in Daily Life-Insight Gained from EPR and ENDOR

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Carotenoids are indispensable molecules for life. They are present everywhere in plants, algae, bacteria whom they protect against free radicals and oxidative stress. Through the consumption of fruits and vegetables and some carotenoid-containing fish, they are introduced into the human body and, similarly, protect it. There are numerous health benefits associated with the consumption of carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants but at the same time they are prone to oxidation themselves. Electron loss from the carotenoid forms a radical cation. Furthermore, proton loss from a radical cation forms a neutral radical. In this mini-review, we discuss carotenoid radicals studied in our groups by various physicochemical methods, namely the radical cations formed by electron transfer and neutral radicals formed by proton loss from the radical cations. They contain many similar hyperfine couplings due to interactions between the electron spin and numerous protons in the carotenoid. Different EPR and ENDOR methods in combination with DFT calculations have been used to distinguish the two independent carotenoid radical species. DFT predicted larger coupling constants for the neutral radical compared to the radical cation. Previously, INDO calculations miss assigned the large couplings to the radical cation. EPR and ENDOR have aided in elucidating the physisorb, electron and proton transfer processes that occur when carotenoids are adsorbed on solid artificial matrices, and predicted similar reactions in aqueous solution or in plants. After years of study of the physicochemical properties of carotenoid radicals, the different published results start to merge together for a better understanding of carotenoid radical species and their implication in biological systems. Up until 2008, the radical chemistry in artificial systems was elucidated but the correlation between quenching ability and neutral radical formation was an inspiration to look for these radical species in vivo. In addition, the EPR spin-trapping technique has been applied to study inclusion complexes of carotenoids with different delivery systems.

Physics, Atomic, Molecular & Chemical, Spectroscopy
Focsan, A. L., Polyakov, N. E., & Kispert, L. D. (2021). Carotenoids: Importance in Daily Life—Insight Gained from EPR and ENDOR. In Applied Magnetic Resonance (Vol. 52, Issue 8, pp. 1093–1112). Springer Science and Business Media LLC.