Baicalein is a potent in vitro inhibitor against both reticulocyte 15-human and platelet 12-human lipoxygenases
Lipoxygenases (LO) have been implicated in asthma, immune disorders, and various cancers and as a consequence, there is great interest in isolating selective LO isozyme inhibitors. Currently, there is much use of baicalein as a selective human platelet 12-LO (12-hLO) inhibitor, however, our current steady-state inhibition data indicate that baicalein is not selective against 12-hLO versus human reticulocyte 15-LO-1 (15-hLO-1) (15/12 = 1.3), in vitro. However, in the presence of detergents baicalein is slightly more selective (15/12 = 7) as seen by the steady-state inhibition kinetics, which may imply greater selectivity in a cell-based assay but has yet to be proven. The mechanism of baicalein inhibition of 15-hLO-1 is reductive, which molecular modeling suggests is through direct binding of the catecholic moiety of baicalein to the iron. A structurally related flavonoid, apigenin, is not reductive, however, molecular modeling suggests a hydrogen bond with Thr591 may account for its inhibitor potency.