|Jmol-3D images||Image 1|
|Molar mass||180.16 g/mol|
|λmax||327 nm and a shoulder at c. 295 nm in acidified methanol|
|Related compounds||Chlorogenic acid
| (what is: / ?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Caffeic acid is an organic compound that is classified as hydroxycinnamic acid. This yellow solid consists of both phenolic and acrylic functional groups. It is found in all plants because it is a key intermediate in the biosynthesis of lignin, one of the principal sources of biomass.
Occurrences in food
Caffeic acid, which is unrelated to caffeine, is biosynthesized by hydroxylation of coumaroyl ester of quinic ester. This hydroxylation produces the caffeic acid ester of shikimic acid, which converts to chlorogenic acid. It is the precursor to ferulic acid, coniferyl alcohol, and sinapyl alcohol, all of which are significant building blocks in lignin. The transformation to ferulic acid is catalyzed by the enzyme caffeic acid-O-methyltransferase.
Caffeic acid has a variety of potential pharmacological effects in in vitro studies and in animal models, and inhibitory effect of caffeic acid on cancer cell proliferation by oxidative mechanism in human HT-1080 fibrosarcoma cell line has recently been established.
Caffeic acid is an antioxidant in vitro and also in vivo. Caffeic acid also shows immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory activity. Caffeic acid outperformed the other antioxidants, reducing aflatoxin production by more than 95 percent. The studies are the first to show that oxidative stress that would otherwise trigger or enhance Aspergillus flavus aflatoxin production can be stymied by caffeic acid. This opens the door to using natural fungicide methods by supplementing trees with antioxidants.
Studies of the carcinogenicity of caffeic acid have mixed results. Some studies have shown that it inhibits carcinogenesis, and other experiments show carcinogenic effects. Oral administration of high doses of caffeic acid in rats has caused stomach papillomas. In the same study, high doses of combined antioxidants, including caffeic acid, showed a significant decrease in growth of colon tumors in those same rats. No significant effect was noted otherwise. Caffeic acid is listed under some Hazard Data sheets as a potential carcinogen, as has been listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 2B carcinogen ("possibly carcinogenic to humans"). More recent data show that bacteria in the rats' guts may alter the formation of metabolites of caffeic acid. There have been no known ill-effects of caffeic acid in humans.
Caffeic acid may be the active ingredient in caffenol, a do-it-yourself black-and-white photographic developer made from instant coffee. The developing chemistry is similar to that of catechol or pyrogallol.
Isomers with the same molecular formula and in the hydroxycinammic acids family are:
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