The Adriamycin semiquinone produced by the reaction of xanthine oxidase and xanthine with Adriamycin has been shown to reduce both methaemoglobin and cytochrome c. In air, but not N2, both reactions were inhibited by superoxide dismutase. With cytochrome c, superoxide formed by the rapid reaction of the semiquinone with O2, was responsible for the reduction. However, even in air, methaemoglobin was reduced directly by the Adriamycin semiquinone. Superoxide dismutase inhibited this reaction by removing superoxide and hence the semiquinone by displacing the equilibrium: Semiquinone + O2 in equilibrium or formed from quinone + O2-. to the right. This ability to inhibit indirectly reactions of the semiquinone could have wider implications for the protection given by superoxide dismutase against the cytotoxicity of Adriamycin. Oxidation of haemoglobin by Adriamycin has been shown to be initiated by a reversible reaction between the drug and oxyhaemoglobin, producing methaemoglobin and the Adriamycin semiquinone. Reaction of the semiquinone with O2 gives superoxide and H2O2, which can also react with haemoglobin. Catalase, by preventing this reaction of H2O2, inhibits oxidation of oxyhaemoglobin. Superoxide dismutase, however, accelerates oxidation, by inhibiting the reaction of the semiquinone with methaemoglobin by the mechanism described above. Although superoxide dismutase has a detrimental effect on haemoglobin oxidation, it may protect the red cell against more damaging reactions of the Adriamycin semiquinone.
- © 1982 London: The Biochemical Society