Metabolic activation of sulfur mustard leads to oxygen free radical formation

Research Division, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21010-5400, USA.
Free Radical Biology and Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.74). 12/2011; 52(4):811-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.11.031
Source: PubMed


We recently published electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spin trapping results that demonstrated the enzymatic reduction of sulfur mustard sulfonium ions to carbon-based free radicals using an in vitro system containing sulfur mustard, cytochrome P450 reductase, NADPH, and the spin trap α-(4-pyridyl-1-oxide)-N-tert-butylnitrone (4-POBN) in buffer (A.A. Brimfield et al., 2009, Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 234:128-134). Carbon-based radicals have been shown to reduce molecular oxygen to form superoxide and, subsequently, peroxyl and hydroxyl radicals. In some cases, such as with the herbicide paraquat, a cyclic redox system results, leading to magnified oxygen free radical concentration and sustained tissue damage. Low mustard carbon radical concentrations recorded by EPR in our in vitro system, despite a robust (4.0mM) sulfur mustard starting concentration, led us to believe a similar oxygen reduction and redox cycling process might be involved with sulfur mustard. A comparison of the rate of mustard radical-POBN adduct formation in our in vitro system by EPR at atmospheric and reduced oxygen levels indicated a sixfold increase in 4-POBN adduct formation (0.5 to 3.0 μM) at the reduced oxygen concentration. That result suggested competition between oxygen and POBN for the available carbon-based mustard radicals. In parallel experiments we found that the oxygen radical-specific spin trap 5-tert-butoxycarbonyl-5-methylpyrroline-N-oxide (BMPO) detected peroxyl and hydroxyl radicals directly when it was used in place of POBN in the in vitro system. Presumably these radicals originated from O(2) reduced by carbon-based mustard radicals. We also showed that reactive oxygen species (ROS)-BMPO EPR signals were reduced or eliminated when mustard carbon radical production was impeded by systematically removing system components, indicating that carbon radicals were a necessary precursor to ROS production. ROS EPR signals were completely eliminated when superoxide dismutase and catalase were included in the complete in vitro enzymatic system, providing additional proof of oxygen radical participation. The redox cycling hypothesis was supported by density functional theory calculations and frontier molecular orbital analysis.

Download full-text


Available from: Richard E Sweeney, Oct 09, 2014
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite the amount of hard work that has gone into elucidating a toxicological basis for Gulf War Illness, we do not appear to have reached a mechanistic understanding. Investigation of long-term low-level exposure as a basis does not seem to have provided an answer. Nor does the deployment-related toxic soup idea, where exposure to a mixture of toxic chemicals not usually encountered in the same physical vicinity, seems to have explained the symptoms developed by Gulf War Veterans. The idea that an overabundance of CNS acetylcholine leftover from excessive cholinesterase inhibition is at the basis of this syndrome is intellectually appealing and offers a level of neurochemical complexity that may be just beyond the reach of our technical understanding. But no one has yet assembled a coherent mechanism from it either. It seems reasonable that chemical warfare agents were involved. They were not included in early work because it was felt that the toxicant plumes produced during the destruction of stockpiled Iraqi chemical weapons had not been large enough to cause an exposure of US forces and those of our allies. That misconception was disproven, and it is now accepted that people could very well have been exposed to low levels of massive quantities of sarin, cyclosarin, and sulfur mustard. It also seems reasonable that excess acetylcholine or neurological consequences of its presence that we do not fully understand were involved. The combination of nerve agents and the insecticidal anticholinesterases plus the pyridostigmine bromide given prophylactically were probably sufficient to cause the problem. However, the most notable thing is the result of recent work on the toxic mechanism of sulfur mustard showing that it can inhibit the microsomal electron transport chain as a result of sulfonium ion reduction to carbon free radicals by NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase. This information was not available during the work on Gulf War Illness. So this provides an opportunity to discuss the effects of the general inhibition of the cytochrome P450 system superimposed on the conditions encountered by the participants in Desert Storm and Desert Shield as an approach to the toxicology of mixtures.
    Progress in molecular biology and translational science 09/2012; 112:209-30. DOI:10.1016/B978-0-12-415813-9.00007-6 · 3.49 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Sulfur Mustard (SM) is a vesicant chemical warfare agent, which is acutely toxic to a variety of organ systems including skin, eyes, respiratory system and bone marrow. The underlying molecular pathomechanism was mainly attributed to the alkylating properties of SM. However, recent studies have revealed that cellular responses to SM exposure are of more complex nature and include increased protein expression and protein modifications that can be used as biomarkers. In order to confirm already known biomarkers, to detect potential new ones and to further elucidate the pathomechanism of SM, we conducted large-scale proteomic experiments based on a human keratinocyte cell line (HaCaT) exposed to SM. Surprisingly, our analysis identified glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate-dehydrogenase (GAPDH) as one of the up-regulated proteins after exposure of HaCaT cells to SM. In this paper we demonstrate the sulfur mustard induced nuclear translocation of GAPDH in HaCaT cells by 2D gel-electrophoresis (2D GE), immunocytochemistry (ICC), Western Blot (WB) and a combination thereof. 2D GE in combination with MALDI-TOF MS/MS analysis identified GAPDH as an up-regulated protein after SM exposure. Immunocytochemistry revealed a distinct nuclear translocation of GAPDH after exposure to 300 μM SM. This finding was confirmed by fractionated WB analysis. 2D GE and subsequent immunoblot staining of GAPDH demonstrated two different spot locations of GAPH (pI 7.0 and pI 8.5) that are related to cytosolic or nuclear GAPDH respectively. After exposure to 300 μM SM a significant increase of nuclear GAPDH at pI 8.5 occurred. Nuclear GAPDH has been associated with apoptosis, detection of structural DNA alterations, DNA repair and regulation of genomic integrity and telomere structure. The results of our study add new aspects to the pathophysiology of sulfur mustard toxicity, yet further studies will be necessary to reveal the specific function of nuclear GAPDH in the pathomechanism of sulfur mustard.
    Chemico-biological interactions 07/2013; 206(3). DOI:10.1016/j.cbi.2013.06.015 · 2.58 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Alkylating agents are used in anti-tumor chemotherapy because they bind covalently to DNA and generate adducts that may lead to cell death. Bifunctional (HN2) and monofunctional (HN1) nitrogen are two such agents, and HN2 was the first drug successfully employed in anti-leukemia chemotherapy. Currently, HN2 is used either alone or combined with other drugs to treat Hodgkin's disease. It is well known that several crosslinking agents require metabolic activation via reactive oxygen species (ROS) to exert their lethal effects. The objective of this work was therefore to determine whether the abovementioned mustards would also require metabolic activation to exert lethal action against Escherichia coli. For this purpose, we measured survival following exposure to HN2 in E. coli strains that were deficient in nucleotide excision repair (uvrA NER mutant), base excision repair (xthA nfo nth fpg BER mutant) or superoxide dismutase (sodAB mutant) activity. We also performed the same experiments in cells pretreated with an iron chelator (2,2’-dipyridyl, DIP). The NER and BER mutants were only sensitive to HN2 treatment (survival rates similar to those of the wild-type were achieved with 5-fold lower HN2 doses). However, wild-type and sodAB strains were not sensitive to treatment with HN2. In all tested strains, survival dropped by 2.5-fold following pretreatment with DIP compared to treatment with HN2 alone. Furthermore, DIP treatment increased ROS generation in both wild type and sodAB-deficient strains. Based on these data and on the survival of the SOD-deficient strain, we suggest that the increased production of ROS caused by Fe2+ chelation may potentiate the lethal effects of HN2 but not HN1. This potentiation may arise as a consequence of enhancement in the number of or modification of the type of lesions formed. No sensitization was observed for the non-crosslinkable HN2 analog, HN1.
Show more