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      N-Acetylcysteine as an antioxidant and disulphide breaking agent: the reasons why

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          Abstract

          The main molecular mechanisms explaining the well-established antioxidant and reducing activity of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), the N-acetyl derivative of the natural amino acid l-cysteine, are summarised and critically reviewed. The antioxidant effect is due to the ability of NAC to act as a reduced glutathione (GSH) precursor; GSH is a well-known direct antioxidant and a substrate of several antioxidant enzymes. Moreover, in some conditions where a significant depletion of endogenous Cys and GSH occurs, NAC can act as a direct antioxidant for some oxidant species such as NO2 and HOX. The antioxidant activity of NAC could also be due to its effect in breaking thiolated proteins, thus releasing free thiols as well as reduced proteins, which in some cases, such as for mercaptoalbumin, have important direct antioxidant activity. As well as being involved in the antioxidant mechanism, the disulphide breaking activity of NAC also explains its mucolytic activity which is due to its effect in reducing heavily cross-linked mucus glycoproteins. Chemical features explaining the efficient disulphide breaking activity of NAC are also explained.

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          Glutathione catalysis and the reaction mechanisms of glutathione-dependent enzymes.

          Glutathione-dependent catalysis is a metabolic adaptation to chemical challenges encountered by all life forms. In the course of evolution, nature optimized numerous mechanisms to use glutathione as the most versatile nucleophile for the conversion of a plethora of sulfur-, oxygen- or carbon-containing electrophilic substances. This comprehensive review summarizes fundamental principles of glutathione catalysis and compares the structures and mechanisms of glutathione-dependent enzymes, including glutathione reductase, glutaredoxins, glutathione peroxidases, peroxiredoxins, glyoxalases 1 and 2, glutathione transferases and MAPEG. Moreover, open mechanistic questions, evolutionary aspects and the physiological relevance of glutathione catalysis are discussed for each enzyme family. It is surprising how little is known about many glutathione-dependent enzymes, how often reaction geometries and acid-base catalysts are neglected, and how many mechanistic puzzles remain unsolved despite almost a century of research. On the one hand, several enzyme families with non-related protein folds recognize the glutathione moiety of their substrates. On the other hand, the thioredoxin fold is often used for glutathione catalysis. Ancient as well as recent structural changes of this fold did not only significantly alter the reaction mechanism, but also resulted in completely different protein functions. Glutathione-dependent enzymes are excellent study objects for structure-function relationships and molecular evolution. Notably, in times of systems biology, the outcome of models on glutathione metabolism and redox regulation is more than questionable as long as fundamental enzyme properties are neither studied nor understood. Furthermore, several of the presented mechanisms could have implications for drug development. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Cellular functions of glutathione. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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            The chemistry and biological activities of N-acetylcysteine.

            N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has been in clinical practice for several decades. It has been used as a mucolytic agent and for the treatment of numerous disorders including paracetamol intoxication, doxorubicin cardiotoxicity, ischemia-reperfusion cardiac injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome, bronchitis, chemotherapy-induced toxicity, HIV/AIDS, heavy metal toxicity and psychiatric disorders. The mechanisms underlying the therapeutic and clinical applications of NAC are complex and still unclear. The present review is focused on the chemistry of NAC and its interactions and functions at the organ, tissue and cellular levels in an attempt to bridge the gap between its recognized biological activities and chemistry. The antioxidative activity of NAC as of other thiols can be attributed to its fast reactions with OH, NO2, CO3(-) and thiyl radicals as well as to restitution of impaired targets in vital cellular components. NAC reacts relatively slowly with superoxide, hydrogen-peroxide and peroxynitrite, which cast some doubt on the importance of these reactions under physiological conditions. The uniqueness of NAC is most probably due to efficient reduction of disulfide bonds in proteins thus altering their structures and disrupting their ligand bonding, competition with larger reducing molecules in sterically less accessible spaces, and serving as a precursor of cysteine for GSH synthesis. The outlined reactions only partially explain the diverse biological effects of NAC, and further studies are required for determining its ability to cross the cell membrane and the blood-brain barrier as well as elucidating its reactions with components of cell signaling pathways. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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              The thiol pool in human plasma: the central contribution of albumin to redox processes.

              The plasma compartment has particular features regarding the nature and concentration of low and high molecular weight thiols and oxidized derivatives. Plasma is relatively poor in thiol-based antioxidants; thiols are in lower concentrations than in cells and mostly oxidized. The different thiol-disulfide pairs are not in equilibrium and the steady-state concentrations of total thiols as well as reduced versus oxidized ratios are maintained by kinetic barriers, including the rates of reactions and transport processes. The single thiol of human serum albumin (HSA-SH) is the most abundant plasma thiol. It is an important target for oxidants and electrophiles due to its reactivity with a wide variety of species and its relatively high concentration. A relatively stable sulfenic (HSA-SO3H) acid can be formed in albumin exposed to oxidants. Plasma increases in mixed disulfides (HSA-SSR) or in sulfinic (HSA-SO2H) and sulfonic (HSA-SO3H) acids are associated with different pathologies and may constitute biomarkers of the antioxidant role of the albumin thiol. In this work we provide a critical review of the plasma thiol pool with a focus on human serum albumin. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Free Radical Research
                Free Radical Research
                Informa UK Limited
                1071-5762
                1029-2470
                May 22 2018
                July 03 2018
                May 09 2018
                July 03 2018
                : 52
                : 7
                : 751-762
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy;
                [2 ] Global Medical Information, Zambon S.p.A., Bresso, Italy;
                [3 ] Global Respiratory Medical Affairs, Zambon S.p.A., Bresso, Italy
                Article
                10.1080/10715762.2018.1468564
                29742938
                ff571e53-7d85-4aa0-8eb1-93f2c0a22dce
                © 2018
                History

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