Original Article

Mercaptodextran--a new copper chelator and scavenger of oxygen radicals



The therapy of copper poisoning with mercaptodextran inhibits the copper-induced haemolysis, whereas 2,3- dimercaptopropanesulfonic acid (DMPS) may accelerate such haemolysis. Some aspects of the mechanisms of these effects were investigated. The possible generation of activated oxygen species during the interaction of Cu++ and chelating thiols was studied using a chemoluminiscent method detecting oxygen radicals. It was found that incubation of DMPS with copper ions or erythrocyte membranes was accompanied by generation of oxygen radicals. Mercaptodextran added to similar suspensions did not lead to oxygen radical production. And unlike DMPS, mercaptodextran acted as a scavenger of radicals generated by the xanthine oxidase/acetaldehyde system. The different ability of the chelating thiols to cope with free radicals may explain their different potentials to protect against copper-induced haemolysis. Our results also indicate that mercaptodextran may be a useful therapeutic agent in cases of haemolytic crisis in Wilson's disease.

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