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Biochemistry. 1997 Oct 21;36(42):12911-20.

Determination of singlet oxygen-specific versus radical-mediated lipid peroxidation in photosensitized oxidation of lipid bilayers: effect of beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.


Photosensitized oxidation reactions damage tissue by catalyzing the formation of oxyradicals and singlet oxygen. beta-Carotene is hypothesized to exert photoprotective effects by quenching singlet oxygen formed by Type II reactions and by scavenging free radicals formed by Type I reactions. beta-Carotene antioxidant mechanisms were studied in a phospholipid membrane model of photooxidation with a new isotope dilution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) assay that quantitatively distinguishes singlet oxygen-mediated and radical-mediated lipid peroxidation. This assay measures 9- and 10-hydroxylinoleate methyl esters and was used to generate photooxidation profiles for the photosensitizers methylene blue, Rose Bengal, and tetraphenylporphine. These profiles indicate a shift from Type II to Type I photooxidation mechanisms in later stages of photooxidation. beta-Carotene (0.45 mol %) inhibited singlet oxygen-mediated lipid peroxidation at early stages of methylene blue-sensitized photooxidation. Production of radical-mediated products increased faster than singlet oxygen-mediated products at later stages. beta-Carotene-5,8-endoperoxide, a specific marker for singlet oxygen oxidation of beta-carotene in solution, was unstable under the incubation conditions and was not detected in this system. alpha-Tocopherol (0.45 mol %) was ineffective in inhibiting photosensitized lipid peroxidation, whereas 4.5 mol % alpha-tocopherol inhibited almost all radical-mediated lipid peroxidation as well as early-stage singlet oxygen-mediated lipid peroxidation. Cumene hydroperoxide stimulated radical-mediated lipid peroxidation, indicating that accumulation of hydroperoxides from Type II photooxidation may enhance Type I reactions. These data suggest that singlet oxygen quenching, rather than radical scavenging reactions, accounts for the photoprotective actions of beta-carotene.

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