Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry

Double edge redox-implications for the interaction between endogenous thiols and copper ions: In vitro studies.

PMID 18926709


The present study investigated the redox-consequences of the interaction between various endogenous thiols (RSH)-glutathione, cysteine, homocysteine, gamma-glutamyl-cysteine, and cysteinyl-glycine- and Cu(2+) ions, in terms of their free radical-scavenging, ascorbate-oxidizing and O2(*-)-generating properties of the resulting mixtures. Upon a brief incubation (3-30 min) with Cu(2+), the free radical-scavenging properties (towards ABTS(*)(+) and DPPH(*)) and thiol-titratable groups of the RSH added to the mixtures decreased significantly. Remarkably, both effects were only partial, even in the presence of a large molar Cu(2+)-excess, and were unaffected despite increasing the incubation time. At equimolar concentrations, the RSH/Cu(2+) mixtures led to the formation of (EPR paramagnetic) Cu(II)-complexes that were time-stable and ascorbate-reducible, but redox-inactive towards oxygen. In turn, at a slight molar thiol-excess (3:1), the mixtures resulted in the formation of time-stable Cu(I)-complexes (EPR silent) that were unreactive towards ascorbate and oxygen. The only exception was seen for the thiol, glutathione, whose mixture with Cu(2+) mixture displayed a O2(*-)-generating capacity (cytochrome c- and lucigenin-reduction). The data indicate that, depending on their molar ratio, the interaction between Cu(2+) and the tested thiols would give place to mixtures containing either: (i) time-stable and ascorbate-reducible Cu(II)-complexes which display free radical-scavenging properties, or (ii) time-stable but redox-inactive towards oxygen Cu(I)-complexes. Among the latter, the only exception was that of glutathione.