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Nasunin Biological Functions

The chemical name for nasunin is delphinidin-3-(p-coumaroylrutinoside)-5-glucoside. It is an anthocyanin first isolated from eggplants in 1933. Nasunin is a water soluble pigment that gives the purple-blue coloring to eggplant peels.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Health:

A spectrophotometric study showed that nasunin formed an iron complex...Therefore, hydroxyl radical scavenging by nasunin is not due to direct radical scavenging but inhibition of OH generation by chelating iron. Nasunin (1 microM) significantly protected against lipid peroxidation of brain homogenates...These findings demonstrate that nasunin is a potent O2*- scavenger and iron chelator which can protect against lipid peroxidation.1

All of this is a fancy way of saying that this substance acts to prevent free radicals from destroying cell structures. Normally, peroxidation occurs by an OH-, known as a reactive oxygen species, combining with a hydrogen atom. This steals an electron from a fatty acid that comprises part of the cell's structure - making this molecule unstable, creating a chain reaction of electron stealing. This process continues until the molecule reacts with another free radical or is brought under control by an antioxidant.

Nasunin is an antioxidant, but it does not work in the usual way of simply combining with free radicals. Rather it interferes in the process of the creation of the dangerous OH- molecules in the first place by the chelation of iron molecules. In this way it operates to protect all manner of cells especially in the brain.

An even more startling discovery regarding nasunin is its ability to fight cancer. The U.S. National Institute of Health puts it this way, "Nasunin, an antioxidant anthocyanin isolated from eggplant peels, was demonstrated as an angiogenesis inhibitor.2" In order for cancer to grow it must have a new network of blood vessels to carry it oxygen and nutrients. Nasunin has the ability to restrict the growth of these new blood vessels, helping to control the growth of cancerous tumors.

It should be realized that nasunin restricts the building of all blood vessels. Under normal circumstances, the body does not need new ones. However, after certain injuries, the healing process may require them, and growing bodies definitely need them.

Next Page: Natural Sources of Nasunin

  1. Antioxidant activity of nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant
  2. Antiangiogenic activity of nasunin, an antioxidant anthocyanin, in eggplant peels.

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