• antioxidant defenses;
  • biomarkers for oxidative stress;
  • cocoa flavonols;
  • dietary antioxidants


Flavanols, such as epicatechin (EC), constitute an important part of the human diet; they can be found in green tea, grapes and cocoa and possess different biological activities such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic. This study investigated the potential chemo-protective effect of EC against oxidative stress induced by tert-butylhydroperoxide (t-BOOH) on human HepG2 cells. Cell viability by lactate dehydrogenase assay and markers of oxidative status: reduced glutathione (GSH), malondialdehyde (MDA), reactive oxygen species (ROS), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione reductase (GR) were evaluated. Pretreatment of cells with EC for 20 h prevented the enhanced cell damage and GPx and GR activities as well as the decrease in GSH induced by t-BOOH. The increased ROS generation induced by t-BOOH was also partly prevented by a pretreatment for 20 h with EC. In addition, pretreatment of cells with EC for 20 h recovered the t-BOOH-induced MDA concentration to control values. A pretreatment for 2 h with EC did not reduce cell damage but partly recovered GSH, reduced ROS levels and muffled the increase of GPx and GR after exposure to t-BOOH. Treatment of HepG2 cells with concentrations of EC in the micromolar range confers a significant protection against oxidative stress. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.