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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1998 Jan;148(1):117-25.

Antioxidant and cytoprotective properties of D-tagatose in cultured murine hepatocytes.

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Institute of Toxicology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Schwerzenbach, Switzerland.


D-Tagatose is a zero-energy producing ketohexose that is a powerful cytoprotective agent against chemically induced cell injury. To further explore the underlying mechanisms of cytoprotection, we investigated the effects of D-tagatose on both the generation of superoxide anion radicals and the consequences of oxidative stress driven by prooxidant compounds in intact cells. Primary cultures of hepatocytes derived from male C57BL/6 mice were exposed to the redox cycling drug nitrofurantoin (NFT). Lethal cell injury induced by 300 microM NFT was completely prevented by high concentrations (20 mM) of D-tagatose, whereas equimolar concentrations of glucose, mannitol, or xylose were ineffective. The extent of NFT-induced intracellular superoxide anion radical formation was not altered by D-tagatose, indicating that the ketohexose did not inhibit the reductive bioactivation of NFT. However, the NFT-induced decline of the intracellular GSH content was largely prevented by D-tagatose. The sugar also afforded complete protection against NFT toxicity in hepatocytes that had been chemically depleted of GSH. Furthermore, the ketohexose fully protected from increases in both membrane lipid peroxidation and protein carbonyl formation. In addition, D-tagatose completely prevented oxidative cell injury inflicted by toxic iron overload with ferric nitrilotriacetate (100 microM). In contrast, D-tagatose did not protect against lethal cell injury induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide, a prooxidant which acts by hydroxyl radical-independent mechanisms and which is partitioned in the lipid bilayer. These results indicate that D-tagatose, which is a weak iron chelator, can antagonize the iron-dependent toxic consequences of intracellular oxidative stress in hepatocytes. The antioxidant properties of D-tagatose may result from sequestering the redox-active iron, thereby protecting more critical targets from the damaging potential of hydroxyl radical.

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