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|Molar mass||194.18 g/mol|
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Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Ferulic acid is a hydroxycinnamic acid, a type of organic compound. It is an abundant phenolic phytochemical found in plant cell wall components such as arabinoxylans as covalent side chains. It is related to trans-cinnamic acid. As a component of lignin, ferulic acid is a precursor in the manufacture of other aromatic compounds. The etymology is from the genus Ferula, referring to the giant fennel (Ferula communis).
Occurrence in nature
Ferulic acid is found in the seeds of coffee, apple, artichoke, peanut, and orange, as well as in both seeds and cell walls of commelinid plants (such as rice, wheat, oats, the Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) and pineapple).
In cereals, ferulic acid is localized in the bran the hard outer layer of grain. In wheat, phenolic compounds are mainly found in the form of insoluble bound ferulic acid and be relevant to resistance to wheat fungal diseases. The highest known concentration of ferulic acid glucoside has been found in flax seed (4.1 +/- 0.2 g/kg). It is also found in barley grain.
Asterid Eudicot plants can also produce ferulic acid. The tea brewed from the leaves of yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolius), a traditionally grown in the Northern and Central Andes, contains quantities of ferulic acid, as well as the tea brewed from the European centaury (Centaurium erythraea), a plant used as a medical herb in many parts of Europe. In legumes, the white bean variety navy bean is the richest source of ferulic acid among the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) varieties. It is also found in horse grams (Macrotyloma uniflorum).
In processed foods
Ferulic acid is converted by certain strains of yeast, notably strains used in brewing of wheat beers, such as Saccharomyces delbrueckii (Torulaspora_delbrueckii), to 4-vinyl guaiacol (2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol) which gives beers such as Weissbier and Wit their distinctive "clove" flavour. Saccharomyces cerevisiae (dry baker's yeast) and Pseudomonas fluorescens are also able to convert trans-ferulic acid into 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol. In P. fluorescens, a ferulic acid decarboxylase has been isolated.
Ferulic acid is one of the possible plant compounds that initiate Agrobacterium tumefaciens to infect plant cells.
It can be extracted from wheat bran and maize bran using concentrated alkali.
Ferulic acid, like many natural phenols, is an antioxidant in vitro in the sense that it is reactive toward free radicals such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS and free radicals are implicated in DNA damage, cancer, accelerated cell aging. Animal studies and in vitro studies suggest that ferulic acid may have direct antitumor activity against breast cancer and liver cancer. Ferulic acid may have pro-apoptotic effects in cancer cells, thereby leading to their destruction. Ferulic acid may be effective at preventing cancer induced by exposure to the carcinogenic compounds benzopyrene and 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide. Note that these are not randomized controlled trials done with human participants, and therefore, the results of these studies may not be directly applicable to human use.
If added to a topical preparation of ascorbic acid and vitamin E, ferulic acid may reduce oxidative stress and formation of thymine dimers in skin. There is also a small amount of research showing oral supplements of ferulic acid can inhibit melanin production in the process of skin whitening.
As a precursor to vanillin
Ferulic acid, being highly abundant, may be useful as a precursor in the manufacturing of vanillin, a synthetic flavoring agent often used in place of natural vanilla extract. However, biotechnological processes may be the most efficient method to use ferulic acid as a precursor, and as such, research is still ongoing.
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