Carnosine, anserine and homocarnosine are natural compounds which are present in high concentrations (2-20 mM) in skeletal muscles and brain of many vertebrates. We have demonstrated in a previous work that these compounds can act as antioxidants, a result of their ability to scavenge peroxyl radicals, singlet oxygen and hydroxyl radicals. Carnosine and its analogues have been shown to be efficient chelating agents for copper and other transition metals. Since human skeletal muscle contains one-third of the total copper in the body (20-47 mmol/kg) and the concentration of carnosine in this tissue is relatively high, the complex of carnosine: copper may be of biological importance. We have studied the ability of the coppenarnosine (and other carnosine derivatives) complexes to act as superoxide dismutasc. The results indicate that the complex of copper: carnosine can dismute superoxide radicals released by neutrophils treated with PMA in an analogous mechanism to other amino acids and copper complexes. Copper: anserine failed to dismute superoxide radicals and coppwhomocarnosine complex was efficient when the cells were treated with PMA or with histone-opsonized streptococci and cytochalasine B. The possible role of these compounds to act as physiological antioxidants that possess superoxide dismutase activity is discussed.
- Superoxide dismutasc