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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2003 Apr;14(4):406-16.

Identification of oxidation products and free radicals of tryptophan by mass spectrometry.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Aveiro, Portugal.


New oxidation products and free radicals derived from tryptophan (Trp) oxidation under Fenton reaction conditions were identified using mass spectrometry. After the oxidation of tryptophan using hydrogen peroxide and iron (II) system (Fenton reaction), mono- and dihydoxy tryptophans and N-formylkynurenine were identified using electrospray mass spectrometry (ES-MS) and ES-MS/MS. Besides these products, new products resulting from the reaction of tryptophan and oxidized tryptophan and 3-methyl indole derivatives were also identified. The 3-methyl indole derivatives resulted, most probably, from the oxidation process and not from in-source processes. A dimer formed by cross-linking between two Trp radicals (Trp-Trp), similar to the previously described tyrosine dimer was observed, as well as the corresponding monohydroxy-dimer (Trp-Trp-OH). Tandem mass spectrometry was used to identify the structures of these new oxidation products. Free radicals derived from tryptophan oxidation under Fenton reaction were detected using as spin trap the DMPO. The free radical species originated during the oxidation reaction formed stable adducts with the spin trap, and these adducts were identified by ES-MS. New adducts of oxidized tryptophan radicals, namely monohydroxy-tryptophan and dihydroxy-Trp dimer radicals, with one and two DMPO spin trap molecules where identified. Tandem mass spectrometry was used to confirm the proposed structure of the observed adducts.

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