How Saffron's Key Ingredient Safranal Interacts with Digestive Enzyme Trypsin

Jim Crocker
20th June, 2024

How Saffron's Key Ingredient Safranal Interacts with Digestive Enzyme Trypsin

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers from King Saud University studied how safranal, a component of saffron, interacts with trypsin, a digestive enzyme
  • Safranal binds to trypsin in a 1:1 ratio, with the binding strength increasing at higher temperatures
  • This binding causes trypsin to partially unfold and become more hydrophobic, altering its structure and function
The interaction between safranal, a key metabolite of saffron, and trypsin, a crucial digestive enzyme, has been investigated by researchers from King Saud University[1]. This study could have significant implications for understanding how natural compounds interact with digestive enzymes, potentially influencing both digestion and the therapeutic use of safranal. Safranal, a major volatile component of saffron, has been previously noted for its extensive antioxidant properties, which can combat oxidative stress and various diseases[2]. It has also been shown to possess anxiolytic and hypnotic effects[3], as well as anticonvulsant activity[4]. The current study delves deeper into safranal's biochemical interactions, specifically with trypsin. Using spectroscopic and molecular docking analyses, the researchers explored how safranal interacts with trypsin. Fluorescence emission spectra of trypsin were significantly affected by the inner filter effect from safranal, necessitating corrections using standard procedures. The corrected spectra revealed that safranal quenched the intrinsic fluorescence of trypsin, accompanied by a blue shift in the emission maximum wavelength. This shift suggests that the microenvironment of the tryptophan residues in trypsin became more hydrophobic upon binding with safranal. The study found an approximate 1:1 binding ratio between safranal and trypsin, with binding affinity increasing with temperature. This interaction was primarily driven by hydrophobic forces, and there was efficient energy transfer from the tryptophan residues (fluorophore) to safranal. Synchronous fluorescence spectra indicated that tryptophan residues were the main contributors to the fluorescence quenching of trypsin. Further analysis showed that safranal influenced the secondary structure of trypsin, causing partial unfolding. Molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations of both free and safranal-bound trypsin revealed that safranal formed a stable, non-covalent complex within the S2'-S5' subsite of trypsin. Two nearby tyrosine residues (Tyr39 and Tyr151) stabilized safranal through π-π interactions. Additionally, the presence of safranal led to changes in protein flexibility and compactness, aligning with the experimental observation of partial unfolding. These findings build on earlier research by demonstrating a specific biochemical interaction between safranal and trypsin. Previous studies have highlighted safranal's antioxidant[2], anxiolytic[3], and anticonvulsant properties[4]. The current study adds another layer by showing how safranal can interact with digestive enzymes, potentially influencing its therapeutic efficacy and digestive processes. In summary, the study from King Saud University provides valuable insights into the interaction between safranal and trypsin. The binding of safranal to trypsin, driven by hydrophobic forces and stabilized by π-π interactions, leads to changes in the enzyme's structure and function. This research not only enhances our understanding of safranal's biochemical properties but also underscores its potential therapeutic applications in modulating digestion and treating diseases associated with oxidative stress.



Main Study

1) Interaction of major saffron constituent safranal with trypsin: An experimental and computational investigation.

Published 17th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) The role of Safranal and saffron stigma extracts in oxidative stress, diseases and photoaging: A systematic review.

3) Anxiolytic and hypnotic effect of Crocus sativus aqueous extract and its constituents, crocin and safranal, in mice.

4) Protective effect of safranal on pentylenetetrazol-induced seizures in the rat: involvement of GABAergic and opioids systems.

Journal: Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, Issue: Vol 14, Issue 4, Apr 2007

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