Peroxynitrite, a potent cytotoxic agent, can damage a variety of biomolecules such as proteins, lipids, and DNA, and is considered as one of the major pathological causes of several diseases. Therefore, it would appear likely that interception of peroxynitrite by certain dietary compounds may represent one mechanism by which such foods may exert their beneficial action in vivo. A number of researchers have speculated that certain spices, rich in phenolics, may, conceivably, act as potential protectors against the actions of peroxynitrite. Eight culinary spices including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, paprika, rosemary and turmeric were selected for study purposes. Further, the protective effects of methanol extracts of such spices against peroxynitrite-mediated damage to proteins, lipids and DNA were evaluated as determined by these extracts' ability to attenuate the formation of, respectively, nitrotyrosine in albumin, thiobarbiturate acid-reactive substances (TBARS) in liposome and strand breakages for plasmid DNA. All of the tested spices exerted some level of protective ability against peroxynitrite-mediated biomolecular damage. Amongst them, cloves deserve special attention due to their outstanding protective abilities against two of three forms of peroxynitrite-mediated biomolecular damage. Additionally, the phenolic content of certain spices appears to correlate well with such spices' protective effect against peroxynitrite-mediated tyrosine nitration and lipid peroxidation. Such an observation indicates that phenolics present in the spices contributed to such spice-elicited protection against peroxynitrite toxicity.
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