Spin-trapping and human neutrophils. Limits of detection of hydroxyl radical

S. Pou, M. S. Cohen, B. E. Britigan, G. M. Rosen

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79 Scopus citations


Using the spin trap, 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrroline-1-oxide (DMPO) and an excess of dimethyl sulfoxide, we previously reported that in the absence of an exogenous iron catalyst, human neutrophils will not generate hydroxyl radical, manifested as the catalyse-inhibitable methyl radical spin-trapped adduct, 2,2,5-trimethyl-1-pyrrolidinyloxy (DMPO-CH3) (Britigan, B.E., Rosen, G.M., Chai, Y., and Cohen, M.S. (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261, 4426-4431). However, superoxide destroys the preformed hydroxyl radical spin-trapped adduct, 2,2-dimethyl-5-hydroxy-1-pyrrolidinyloxy (DMPO-OH), and DMPO-CH3. The present study was undertaken to better resolve the limits of sensitivity of the spin-trapping method. Photolytically generated DMPO-CH3 and DMPO-OH slowly decomposed in the presence of a low flux (1 μM/min) of enzymatically (xanthine/xanthine oxidase)-generated superoxide, but more rapid decomposition of these adducts occurred with higher superoxide flux (5 μM/min). Inclusion of cysteine markedly increased the rate of DMPO-OH and DMPO-CH3 decomposition, masking the effects of superoxide alone. The addition of varying concentrations of superoxide dismutase did not lead to increased formation of DMPO-OH or DMPO-CH3, as should have occurred if these adducts were being destroyed by superoxide. As a positive control, we employed an iron-supplemented system with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-stimulated neutrophils or xanthine/xanthine oxidase to generate DMPO-CH3. Addition of superoxide dismutase increased the magnitude of DMPO-CH3, primarily by increasing the rate of hydrogen peroxide formation, and to a lesser extent by prolonging the half-life of DMPO-CH3. Although spin-trapped adducts can be destroyed by a high concentration of superoxide, or by lower concentrations of superoxide in the presence of thiol-containing compounds, our results demonstrate that such decomposition does not interfere with the ability of the spin-trapping method to detect hydroxyl radical generated by human neutrophils. These data do not support the capacity of neutrophils to generate hydroxyl radical in the absence of an exogenous Haber-Weiss catalyst.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12299-12302
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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