The tryptophan metabolite xanthurenic acid (Xan) has been isolated from aged human cataractous lenses. The photophysical properties of Xan were examined to determine if it is a potential chromophore for age-related cataractogenesis. We found that Xan produces singlet oxygen (ϕΔ = 0.17 in CD3OD) with the same efficiency as the lenticular chromophore N-formyl kynurenine and quenches singlet oxygen at a rate similar (2.1 × 107; CD3OD) to other tryptophan metabolites found in the eye. As the mechanisms of induction of cataracts may also involve redox reactions, the interactions of hydrated electrons (eaq−), the azide radical (N3·) and hydroxyl radical (OH·) with Xan were studied using the technique of pulse radiolysis. The reaction rate constants of eaq−, N3· and OH· with Xan were found to be of the same order of magnitude as other tryptophan metabolites. The rate constant for reaction of Xan with eaq− solvated electrons was found to be diffusion controlled (k = 1.43 × 1010 M−1 s−1); the reaction with N3· was very fast (k = 4.0 × 109 M−1 s−1); and with OH· was also near diffusion controlled (k = 1.0 × 1010 M−1 s−1). Superoxide O2·− production by irradiated Xan in methanol was detected by electron paramagnetic resonance and substantiated by determining that the enhanced rate of oxygen consumption of Xan irradiated in the presence of furfuryl alcohol was lowered by superoxide dismutase.
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Vol. 72 • No. 4