4-nerolidylcatechol (4-NC) is an unstable natural product that exhibits important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other properties. It is readily obtainable on a multi-gram scale through straightforward solvent extraction of the roots of cultivated Piper peltatum
or P. umbellatum
, followed by column chromatography on the resulting extract. Semi-synthetic derivatives of 4-NC with one or two substituent groups (methyl, acetyl, benzyl, benzoyl) on the O atoms have been introduced that have increased stability compared to 4-NC and significant in vitro
inhibitory activity against the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum
. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may be important for the antiplasmodial mode of action of 4-NC derivatives. Thus, we decided to investigate the antioxidant properties, cytotoxicity and stability of 4-NC derivatives as a means to explore the potential utility of these compounds. 4-NC showed high antioxidant activity in the DPPH and ABTS assays and in 3T3-L1 cells (mouse embryonic fibroblast), however 4-NC was more cytotoxic (IC50
= 31.4 µM) and more unstable than its derivatives and lost more than 80% of its antioxidant activity upon storage in solution at −20 °C for 30 days. DMSO solutions of mono-O
-substituted derivatives of 4-NC exhibited antioxidant activity and radical scavenging activity in the DPPH and ABTS assays that was comparable to that of BHA and BHT. In the cell-based antioxidant model, most DMSO solutions of derivatives of 4-NC were less active on day 1 than 4-NC, quercetin and BHA and more active antioxidants than BHT. After storage for 30 days at −20 °C, DMSO solutions of most of the derivatives of 4-NC were more stable and exhibited more antioxidant activity than 4-NC, quercetin and BHA and exhibited comparable antioxidant activity to BHT. These findings point to the potential of derivatives of 4-NC as antioxidant compounds.