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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1986 Aug 1;248(2):684-9.

Release of iron from ferritin by cardiotoxic anthracycline antibiotics.


The use of the extremely effective anthracycline antitumor drugs adriamycin and daunomycin is limited by a severe, dose-dependent cardiomyopathy. Anthracycline-induced toxicity has been proposed to involve iron-dependent oxidative damage to biological macromolecules yet little is known regarding the availability of physiologic iron. We now report that, in the presence of NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase, these drugs undergo redox cycling to generate superoxide which mediates a slow, reductive release of iron from ferritin, the major intracellular iron storage protein. Anaerobically, the semiquinone free radical forms of adriamycin and daunomycin catalyze a very rapid, extensive release of iron from ferritin. In contrast, diaziquone, an aziridinyl quinone antitumorigenic agent which is less cardiotoxic, is unable to release iron from ferritin. Thus, the present studies suggest that the cardiomyopathy observed with the anthracyclines, and perhaps their antineoplastic activity as well, may be related to their ability to delocalize tissue iron, thereby contributing to the formation of strong oxidants capable of damaging critical cellular constituents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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