Free radical research communications

Hydroxylation of phenol to hydroquinone catalyzed by a human myeloperoxidase-superoxide complex: possible implications in benzene-induced myelotoxicity.

PMID 1666626


Benzene, a known human myelotoxin and leukemogen is metabolized by liver cytochrome P-450 monooxygenase to phenol. Further hydroxylation of phenol by cytochrome P-450 monooxygenase results in the formation of mainly hydroquinone, which accumulates in the bone marrow. Bone marrow contains high levels of myeloperoxidase. Here we report that phenol hydroxylation to hydroquinone is also catalyzed by human myeloperoxidase in the presence of a superoxide anion radical generating system, hypoxanthine and xanthine oxidase. No hydroquinone formation was detected in the absence of myeloperoxidase. At low concentrations superoxide dismutase stimulated, but at high concentrations inhibited, the conversion of phenol to hydroquinone. The inhibitory effect at high superoxide dismutase concentrations indicates that the active hydroxylating species of myeloperoxidase is not derived from its interaction with hydrogen peroxide. Furthermore, catalase a hydrogen peroxide scavenger, was found to have no significant effect on hydroxylation of phenol to hydroquinone, supporting the lack of hydrogen peroxide involvement. Mannitol (a hydroxyl radical scavenger) was found to have no inhibitory effect, but histidine (a singlet oxygen scavenger) inhibited hydroquinone formation. Based on these results we postulate that a myeloperoxidase-superoxide complex spontaneously rearranges to generate singlet oxygen and that this singlet oxygen is responsible for phenol hydroxylation to hydroquinone. These results also suggest that myeloperoxidase dependent hydroquinone formation could play a role in the production and accumulation of hydroquinone in bone marrow, the target organ of benzene-induced myelotoxicity.