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Biological Chemistry

Editor-in-Chief: Brüne, Bernhard

Editorial Board Member: Buchner, Johannes / Ludwig, Stephan / Sies, Helmut / Turk, Boris / Wittinghofer, Alfred

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Comparing β-Carotene, Vitamin E and Nitric Oxide as Membrane Antioxidants

F.Q. Schafer / H.P. Wang / E.E. Kelley / K.L. Cueno / S.M. Martin and G.R. Buettner

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry. Volume 383, Issue 3-4, Pages 671–681, ISSN (Print) 1431-6730, DOI: 10.1515/BC.2002.069, June 2005

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Singlet oxygen initiates lipid peroxidation via a nonfree radical mechanism by reacting directly with unsaturated lipids to form lipid hydroperoxides (LOOHs). These LOOHs can initiate free radical chain reactions leading to membrane leakage and cell death. Here we compare the ability and mechanism by which three smallmolecule membrane antioxidants (βcarotene, αtocopherol and nitric oxide) inhibit lipid peroxidation in membranes. We demonstrate that βcarotene provides protection against singlet oxygenmediated lipid peroxidation, but does not slow free radicalmediated lipid peroxidation. α Tocopherol does not protect cells from singlet oxygen, but does inhibit free radical formation in cell membranes. Nitric oxide provides no direct protection against singlet oxygen exposure, but is an exceptional chainbreaking antioxidant as evident from its ability to blunt oxygen consumption during free radical mediated lipid peroxidation. These three smallmolecule antioxidants appear to have complementary mechanisms for the protection of cell membranes from detrimental oxidations.

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