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Free Radic Biol Med. 1989;6(6):593-7.

The antioxidant action of N-acetylcysteine: its reaction with hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical, superoxide, and hypochlorous acid.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of London King's College Strand Campus, U.K.


N-acetylcysteine has been widely used as an antioxidant in vivo and in vitro. Its reaction with four oxidant species has therefore been examined. N-acetylcysteine is a powerful scavenger of hypochlorous acid (H--OCl); low concentrations are able to protect alpha 1-antiproteinase against inactivation by HOCl. N-acetylcysteine also reacts with hydroxyl radical with a rate constant of 1.36 X 10(10) M-1s-1, as determined by pulse radiolysis. It also reacts slowly with H2O2, but no reaction of N-acetylcysteine with superoxide (O2-) could be detected within the limits of our assay procedures.

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