Generation of Free radicals in reactions of Ni(II)-thiol complexes with molecular oxygen and model lipid hydroperoxides

Xianglin Shi, Kazimierz S. Kasprzak, Nar S. Dalal

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54 Scopus citations


The generation of free radicals from reactions of nickel(II)-thiol complexes with molecular oxygen and model lipid hydroperoxides was investigated by electron spin resonance (ESR) utilizing 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrroline-N-oxide (DMPO) as a spin trap. Incubation of nickel(II) [Ni(II)] with cysteine in an aerobic environment generated hydroxyl (·OH) radical, which then reacted with cysteine to generate a carbon-centered alkyl (·R) radical. Radical generation was inhibited under a nitrogen atmosphere. Model lipid hydroperoxides, cumene hydroperoxide, and t-butyl hydroperoxide enhanced the yield of these radicals and also generated an alkoxyl (·OR) radical. Radical yield decreased by approximately half under a nitrogen atmosphere. Although histidine did not cause radical formation in the reaction between Ni(II) and cumene hydroperoxide under aerobic conditions, the addition of histidine to a mixture containing Ni(II), cysteine, and cumene hydroperoxide under the same experimental conditions increased the yield of ·R radical but lowered the yield of ·OR and ·OH radical adducts. It thus appears that histidine caused the ·OH attack to be more site-specific. Similar results were obtained utilizing t-butyl hydroperoxide. Penicillamine or N-acetylcysteine yielded similar results except that under aerobic conditions, reaction between Ni(II) and N-acetylcysteine without hydroperoxide did not generate a significant concentration of free radicals. Under the same experimental conditions, cystine did not generate any detectable free radicals, suggesting an important role of the -SH group in Ni(II)-mediated free radical generation. The results indicate that free radical generation from the reaction of Ni(II)-thiol complexes and molecular oxygen, and/or lipid hydroperoxides, may play an important role in the mechanism(s) of Ni(II) toxicity and carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-225
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Inorganic Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 15 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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