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Radiat Res. 1996 May;145(5):532-41.

Catalytic metals, ascorbate and free radicals: combinations to avoid.

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ESR Facility and Radiation Research Laboratory, University of Iowa, Iowa City, 52242-1101, USA.


Trace levels of transition metals can participate in the metal-catalyzed Haber-Weiss reaction (superoxide-driven Fenton reaction) as well as catalyze the oxidation of ascorbate. Generally ascorbate is thought of as an excellent reducing agent; it is able to serve as a donor antioxidant in free radical-mediated oxidation processes. However, as a reducing agent it is also able to reduce redox-active metals such as copper and iron, thereby increasing the pro-oxidant chemistry of these metals. Thus ascorbate can serve as both a pro-oxidant and an antioxidant. In general, at low ascorbate concentrations, ascorbate is prone to be a pro-oxidant, and at high concentrations, it will tend to be an antioxidant. Hence there is a crossover effect. We propose that the "position" of this crossover effect is a function of the catalytic metal concentration. In this presentation, we discuss: (1) the role of catalytic metals in free radical-mediated oxidations; (2) ascorbate as both a pro-oxidant and an antioxidant; (3) catalytic metal catalysis of ascorbate oxidation; (4) use of ascorbate to determine adventitious catalytic metal concentrations; (5) use of ascorbate radical as a marker of oxidative stress; and (6) use of ascorbate and iron as free radical pro-oxidants in photodynamic therapy of cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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