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Cooperative stimulation by sulfite and crocidolite asbestos fibres of enzyme catalyzed production of reactive oxygen species


Methylthioketobutyric acid has been used as an indicator for the production of reactive oxygen species during incubation with xanthine oxidase or NADH diaphorase in the presence of an autooxidizable quinone. The production of OH-radical-type oxidants is enhanced in the presence of crocidolite but not by the asbestos types chrysotile or amosite. This activity of crocidolite in the diaphorase system is further stimulated by bisulfite. Crocidolite-dependent ethylene formation from methylthioketobutyric acid is inhibited by both superoxide dismutase and catalase. In the presence of both crocidolite and bisulfite, however, the inhibition by superoxide dismutase is preserved, but the inhibition by catalase is lost. Since in some respect the NADH-diaphorase quinone system may reflect the situation in the activated macrophage, crocidolite activation may represent a biochemical model system describing potential asbestos toxicity.

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Superoxide dismutase




xanthine oxidase


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Correspondence to E. F. Elstner.

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Elstner, E.F., Schütz, W. & Vogl, G. Cooperative stimulation by sulfite and crocidolite asbestos fibres of enzyme catalyzed production of reactive oxygen species. Arch Toxicol 62, 424–427 (1988).

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Key words

  • Asbestos
  • Xanthine oxidase
  • NADH-diaphorase
  • Lung diseases
  • Oxygen activation
  • OH-radical