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Biochem J. 1987 Apr 1;243(1):55-9.

Release of iron from ferritin by xanthine oxidase. Role of the superoxide radical.


Mobilization of iron from ferritin by xanthine oxidase was studied under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Aerobic iron release amounted to approx. 3.7 nmol/ml in 10 min. This amount was decreased by approx. 30% under anaerobic conditions. Aerobic iron mobilization involved two mechanisms. About 70% was released by O2.- generated by xanthine oxidase. The rest was released by O2(.-)-independent mechanisms, which also accounted for the total iron release when O2 was absent. A possible transfer of reducing equivalents directly from xanthine oxidase to ferritin is discussed. The results imply that, in pathological conditions with increased formation of O2.-, iron may be released from ferritin. Furthermore, in hypoxic tissues xanthine oxidase can release iron from ferritin by an O2(.-)-independent process. Free iron is liable to catalyse the formation of the extremely reactive and damaging OH. radical.

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