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Reactivity of Chromium(III) Nutritional Supplements in Biological Media: An X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopic Study

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journal contribution
posted on 19.05.2008 by Annie Nguyen, Irma Mulyani, Aviva Levina, Peter A. Lay
Chromium(III) nutritional supplements are widely used due to their purported ability to enhance glucose metabolism, despite growing evidence on low activity and the potential genotoxicity of these compounds. Reactivities of Cr(III) complexes used in nutritional formulations, including [Cr3O(OCOEt)6(OH2)3]+ (A), [Cr(pic)3] (pic = 2-pyridinecarboxylato(−) (B), and trans-[CrCl2(OH2)4]+ (CrCl3·6H2O; C), in a range of natural and simulated biological media (artificial digestion systems, blood and its components, cell culture media, and intact L6 rat skeletal muscle cells) were studied by X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy. The XANES spectroscopic data were processed by multiple linear-regression analyses with the use of a library of model Cr(III) compounds, and the results were corroborated by the results of X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy and electrospray mass spectrometry. Complexes A and B underwent extensive ligand-exchange reactions under conditions of combined gastric and intestinal digestion (in the presence of a semisynthetic meal, 3 h at 310 K), as well as in blood serum and in a cell culture medium (1−24 h at 310 K), with the formation of Cr(III) complexes with hydroxo and amino acid/protein ligands. Reactions of compounds AC with cultured muscle cells led to similar ligand-exchange products, with at least part of Cr(III) bound to the surface of the cells. The reactions of B with serum greatly enhanced its propensity to be converted to Cr(VI) by biological oxidants (H2O2 or glucose oxidase system), which is proposed to be a major cause of both the insulin-enhancing activity and toxicity of Cr(III) compounds (Mulyani, I.; Levina, A.; Lay, P. A. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 4504−4507). This finding enhances the current concern over the safety of consumption of large doses of Cr(III) supplements, particularly [Cr(pic)3].