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Biol Chem. 2002 May;383(5):813-20.

Spin adducts of superoxide, alkoxyl, and lipid-derived radicals with EMPO and its derivatives.

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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Veterinary University of Vienna, Austria.


The compound 5-(ethoxycarbonyl)-5-methyl-1-pyrroline N-oxide (EMPO) is a hydrophilic cyclic nitrone spin trap, which, in contrast to DMPO, forms a relatively stable superoxide adduct (t(1/2)=8.6 min) with an EPR spectrum similar to the respective DMPO adduct. In order to find the optimal degree of lipophilicity of this novel type of spin trap with respect to the detection of radicals formed during lipid peroxidation, the ethoxy group of EMPO was replaced by alkoxy substituents of increasing chain length, leading to the methoxy- (MeMPO), 1-propoxy- (PrMPO), 1-butoxy- (BuMPO), and 1-octyloxy- (OcMPO) derivatives of EMPO. The stability of their superoxide adducts was found to be strongly dependent on the size of the alkoxycarbonyl group. Increasing chain length of the alkoxyl substituent decreased the stability of alkoxyl radical adducts of MeMPO, EMPO, and PrMPO, but increased the stability of OcMPO adducts. The stability of alkoxyl radical adducts of BuMPO, on the other hand, were practically independent of the size of the alkoxyl group. Detection of lipid alkoxyl radicals formed by peroxidizing linoleic acid in a stationary system was therefore only possible with the most lipophilic spin trap, OcMPO. However, with the more hydrophilic spin traps MeMPO, EMPO, PrMPO, and BuMPO optimal EPR signal intensity could be obtained when a slow-flow system was used. Thus, within this series EMPO is the best spin trap for the detection of superoxide; OcMPO, on the other hand, is most suitable for the detection of lipid alkoxyl radicals.

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