Aldose reductase (AKR1B1), the first enzyme in the polyol pathway, is likely involved in the onset of diabetic complications. Differential inhibition of AKR1B1 has been proposed to counteract the damaging effects linked to the activity of the enzyme while preserving its detoxifying ability. Here, we show that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), one of the most representative catechins present in green tea, acts as a differential inhibitor of human recombinant AKR1B1. A kinetic analysis of EGCG, and of its components, gallic acid (GA) and epigallocatechin (EGC) as inhibitors of the reduction of L-idose, 4-hydroxy2,3-nonenal (HNE), and 3-glutathionyl l-4-dihydroxynonanal (GSHNE) revealed for the compounds a different model of inhibition toward the different substrates. While EGCG preferentially inhibited L-idose and GSHNE reduction with respect to HNE, gallic acid, which was still active in inhibiting the reduction of the sugar, was less active in inhibiting HNE and GSHNE reduction. EGC was found to be less efficient as an inhibitor of AKR1B1 and devoid of any differential inhibitory action. A computational study defined different interactive modes for the three substrates on the AKR1B1 active site and suggested a rationale for the observed differential inhibition. A chromatographic fractionation of an alcoholic green tea extract revealed that, besides EGCG and GA, other components may exhibit the differential inhibition of AKR1B1.
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