alexa A site-specific mechanism for free radical induced biological damage: the essential role of redox-active transition metals.


Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences

Author(s): Chevion M

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Abstract The metal-mediated site-specific mechanism for free radical-induced biological damage is reviewed. According to this mechanism, cooper- or iron-binding sites on macromolecules serve as centers for repeated production of hydroxyl radicals that are generated via the Fenton reaction. The aberrations induced by superoxide, ascorbate, isouramil, and paraquat are summarized. An illustrative example is the enhancement of double-strand breaks by ascorbate/copper. Prevention of the site-specific free radical damage can be accomplished by using selective chelators for iron and copper, by displacing these redox-active metals with other redox-inactive metals such as zinc, by introducing high concentrations of hydroxyl radicals scavengers and spin trapping agents, and by applying protective enzymes that remove superoxide or hydrogen peroxide. Histidine is a special agent that can intervene in free radical reactions in variety of modes. In biological systems, there are traces of copper and iron that are at high enough levels to catalyze free-radical reactions, and account for such deleterious processes. In the human body Fe/Cu = 80/1 (w/w). Nevertheless, both (free) copper and iron are soluble enough, and the rate constants of their reduced forms with hydrogen peroxide are sufficiently high to suggest that they might be important mediators of free radical toxicity.
This article was published in Free Radic Biol Med and referenced in Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences

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