Nordihydroguaiaretic acid as a novel substrate and inhibitor of catechol o-methyltransferase modulates 4-hydroxyestradiol-induced cyto-and genotoxicity in mcf-7 cells

Jin Hee Kim, Jimin Lee, Hyesoo Jeong, Mi Seo Bang, Jin Hyun Jeong, Minsun Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) is a major lignan metabolite found in Larrea spp., which are widely used in South America to treat various diseases. In breast tissue, estradiol is metabolized to the catechol estrogens such as 4-hydroxyestradiol (4-OHE2 ), which have been proposed to be cancer initiators potentially involved in mammary carcinogenesis. Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) catalyzes the O-methylation of catechol estrogens to their less toxic methoxy derivatives, such as 4-O-methylestradiol (4-MeOE2 ). The present study investigated the novel biological activities of NDGA in relation to COMT and the effects of COMT inhibition by NDGA on 4-OHE2-induced cyto-and genotoxicity in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Two methoxylated metabolites of NDGA, 3-O-methylNDGA (3-MNDGA) and 4-O-methyl NDGA (4-MNDGA), were identified in the reaction mixture containing human recombinant COMT, NDGA, and cofactors. Km values for the COMT-catalyzed metabolism of NDGA were 2.6 µM and 2.2 µM for 3-MNDGA and 4-MNDGA, respectively. The COMT-catalyzed methylation of 4-OHE2 was inhibited by NDGA at an IC50 of 22.4 µM in a mixed-type mode of inhibition by double reciprocal plot analysis. Molecular docking studies predicted that NDGA would adopt a stable conformation at the COMT active site, mainly owing to the hydrogen bond network. NDGA is likely both a substrate for and an inhibitor of COMT. Comet and apurinic/apyrimidinic site quantitation assays, cell death, and apoptosis in MCF-7 cells showed that NDGA decreased COMT-mediated formation of 4-MeOE2 and increased 4-OHE2-induced DNA damage and cytotoxicity. Thus, NDGA has the potential to reduce COMT activity in mammary tissues and prevent the inactivation of mutagenic estradiol metabolites, thereby increasing catechol estrogen-induced genotoxicities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2060
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants (2019R1A2C1003497) from the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded through the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future, Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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