Biochemical pharmacology

Differential susceptibilities of the prosthetic heme of hemoglobin-based red cell substitutes. Implications in the design of safer agents.

PMID 8274164


One approach to the development of an effective red cell substitute has been chemical modification of human hemoglobin to optimize oxygen transport and plasma half-life. Human hemoglobin A0 and two of these modified hemoglobins, one prepared from the cross-linking of the alpha-chains at lysine residue 99 by bis(3,5-dibromosalicyl)fumarate (Hb-DBBF) and the other by acylation of lysine residue 82 of the beta-chain by mono-(3,5-dibromosalicyl)fumarate (Hb-FMDA), were tested by HPLC for their susceptibility to oxidative damage caused by H2O2. Such oxidative insult may occur during ischemia and reperfusion of tissues after transfusion of red cell substitutes to patients with hypovolemic shock and trauma. Hb-DBBF was extremely susceptible to damage of its heme and protein moieties with stoichiometric amounts of H2O2, whereas Hb-FMDA was highly resistant, even at 10-fold molar excess and at an acidic pH of 4.7. Hemoglobin A0 was of intermediate susceptibility, exhibiting alteration of heme and protein moieties at acidic but not neutral pH. Since the degradation of heme can release the potentially toxic agent iron, Hb-FMDA may be a more promising candidate than Hb-DBBF for development as a red cell substitute. A similar approach may be used to assess the susceptibility of other hemoglobin-based red cell substitutes to oxidative damage in order to determine the molecular basis of heme and protein alteration.