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Nat Commun. 2011 Oct 11;2:497. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1499.

A mitochondria-targeted inhibitor of cytochrome c peroxidase mitigates radiation-induced death.

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  • 1Center for Free Radical and Antioxidant Health and Center for Medical Countermeasures against Radiation, University of Pittsburgh, Bridgeside Point, Pennsylvania 15219, USA.


The risk of radionuclide release in terrorist acts or exposure of healthy tissue during radiotherapy demand potent radioprotectants/radiomitigators. Ionizing radiation induces cell death by initiating the selective peroxidation of cardiolipin in mitochondria by the peroxidase activity of its complex with cytochrome c leading to release of haemoprotein into the cytosol and commitment to the apoptotic program. Here we design and synthesize mitochondria-targeted triphenylphosphonium-conjugated imidazole-substituted oleic and stearic acids that blocked peroxidase activity of cytochrome c/cardiolipin complex by specifically binding to its haem-iron. We show that both compounds inhibit pro-apoptotic oxidative events, suppress cyt c release, prevent cell death, and protect mice against lethal doses of irradiation. Significant radioprotective/radiomitigative effects of imidazole-substituted oleic acid are observed after pretreatment of mice from 1 h before through 24 h after the irradiation.

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