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Systematic Mining of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Flavor Chemicals for Bioactive Compounds

Martinez-Mayorga, Karina, Peppard, Terry L., López-Vallejo, Fabian, Yongye, Austin B., Medina-Franco, José L.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2013 v.61 no.31 pp. 7507-7514
GRAS substances, bioavailability, emotions, flavor, foods, histone deacetylase, ingredients, screening, toxicity, valproic acid
Bioactive food compounds can be both therapeutically and nutritionally relevant. Screening strategies are widely employed to identify bioactive compounds from edible plants. Flavor additives contained in the so-called FEMA GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list of approved flavoring ingredients is an additional source of potentially bioactive compounds. This work used the principles of molecular similarity to identify compounds with potential mood-modulating properties. The ability of certain GRAS molecules to inhibit histone deacetylase-1 (HDAC1), proposed as an important player in mood modulation, was assayed. Two GRAS chemicals were identified as HDAC1 inhibitors in the micromolar range, results similar to what was observed for the structurally related mood prescription drug valproic acid. Additional studies on bioavailability, toxicity at higher concentrations, and off-target effects are warranted. The methodology described in this work could be employed to identify potentially bioactive flavor chemicals present in the FEMA GRAS list.