Theoretical Determination of the pKa Values of Betalamic Acid Related to the Free Radical Scavenger Capacity: Comparison Between Empirical and Quantum Chemical Methods

  • Marco TutoneEmail author
  • Antonino Lauria
  • Anna Maria Almerico
Original Research Article


Health benefits of dietary phytochemicals have been suggested in recent years. Among 1000s of different compounds, Betalains, which occur in vegetables of the Cariophyllalae order (cactus pear fruits and red beet), have been considered because of reducing power and potential to affect redox-modulated cellular processes. The antioxidant power of Betalains is strictly due to the dissociation rate of the acid moieties present in all the molecules of this family of phytochemicals. Experimentally, only the pKa values of betanin were determined. Recently, it was evidenced it was evidenced as the acid dissociation, at different environmental pHs, affects on its electron-donating capacity, and further on its free radical scavenging power. The identical correlation was studied on another Betalains family compound, Betalamic Acid. Experimental evidences showed that the free radical scavenging capacity of this compound drastically decreases at pH > 5, but pKa values were experimentally not measured. With the aim to justify the Betalamic Acid behavior as free radical scavenger, in this paper we tried to predict in silico the pKa values by means different approaches. Starting from the known experimental pKas of acid compounds, both phytochemicals and small organic, two empirical approaches and quantum–mechanical calculation were compared to give reliable prediction of the pKas of Betalamic Acid. Results by means these computational approaches are consistent with the experimental evidences. As shown herein, in silico, the totally dissociated species, at the experimental pH > 5 in solution, is predominant, exploiting the higher electron-donating capability (HOMO energy). Therefore, the computational estimated pKa values of Betalamic Acid resulted very reliable.


Betalamic Acid Antioxidants pKa prediction Empirical methods DFT calculation 

Supplementary material

12539_2015_101_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (78 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 78 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Association of Scientists in the Interdisciplinary Areas and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Tutone
    • 1
    Email author
  • Antonino Lauria
    • 1
  • Anna Maria Almerico
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche Chimiche e Farmaceutiche (STEBICEF)Università di PalermoPalermoItaly

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