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FEBS Lett. 1997 Nov 24;418(1-2):91-7.

Comparative mechanisms and rates of free radical scavenging by carotenoid antioxidants.

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  • 1Department of Dairy and Food Science, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


The comparative mechanisms and relative rates of nitrogen dioxide (NO2.), thiyl (RS.) and sulphonyl (RSO2.) radical scavenging by the carotenoid antioxidants lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin and canthaxanthin have been determined by pulse radiolysis. All the carotenoids under study react with the NO2. radical via electron transfer to generate the carotenoid radical cation (Car.+). In marked contrast the glutathione and 2-mercaptoethanol thiyl radicals react via a radical addition process to generate carotenoid-thiyl radical adducts [RS-Car].. The RSO2. radical undergoes both radical addition, [RSO2-Car]. and electron abstraction, Car.+. Both carotenoid adduct radicals and radical cations decay bimolecularly. Absolute rate constants for radical scavenging were in the order of approximately 10(7)-10(9) M(-1) s(-1) and follow the sequence HO(CH2)2S. > RSO2. > GS. > NO2.. Although there were some discernible trends in carotenoid reactivity for individual radicals, rate constants varied by no greater than a factor of 2.5. The mechanism and rate of scavenging is strongly dependent on the nature of the oxidising radical species but much less dependent on the carotenoid structure.

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