L-tryptophan reacts with naturally occurring and food-occurring phenolic aldehydes to give phenolic tetrahydro-beta-carboline alkaloids: activity as antioxidants and free radical scavengers.J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Apr 09; 51(8):2168-73.JA
The reaction between the essential amino acid l-tryptophan and flavoring or naturally occurring phenyl and phenolic aldehydes was studied, and the alkaloidal reaction products were characterized by NMR and HPLC-MS. Benzaldehyde, vanillin, syringaldehyde, salicylaldehyde, and anisaldehyde condensed with l-tryptophan in aqueous-acidic media affording the corresponding phenolic tetrahydro-beta-carboline-3-carboxylic acid as two diastereoisomers, 1S,3S-cis and 1R,3S-trans. With the exception of benzaldehyde, the rest of the aldehydes needed heating conditions (70 degrees C) to significantly form tetrahydro-beta-carbolines over time with the cyclization highly favored at low pH. This suggests a likely formation of these compounds under conditions that may occur in foods, food processing, or cooking. The new phenolic tetrahydro-beta-carboline alkaloids were assayed, for the first time, for their activity as free radical scavengers and antioxidants and showed good antioxidant properties with Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) values much higher than those of ascorbic acid and the water soluble vitamin E analogue, Trolox, in the 2,2'-azinobis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline)-6-sulfonic acid (ABTS) assay.