Ferulic acid is an organic compound that is an abundant phenolic phytochemical found in plant cell walls. It is a derivative of trans-cinnamic acid. As a component of lignin, ferulic acid is a Precursor in the manufacture of other aromatic compounds.
Etymology : from Ferula, giant fennel.
Occurrence in nature
Ferulic acid, together with dihydroferulic acid, is a component of lignocellulose, serving to crosslink the lignin and polysaccharides, thereby conferring rigidity to the cell walls. It is found in seeds of plants such as in rice
, and oats
, as well as in coffee
. It can be extracted from wheat bran and maize bran using concentrated alkali. Biosynthesis
of ferulic acid is by the action of the enzyme O-methyl transferase on caffeic acid
It is an intermediate in the synthesis of monolignols, i.e., the monomers of lignin, and is also used for the synthesis of lignans.
Ferulic acid, like many phenols
, is an antioxidant
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
, 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 .
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.
It is used as a matrix for proteins
in MALDI mass spectroscopy
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