Antioxidants and protein oxidation

Helen R. Griffiths*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Proteins are susceptible to oxidation by reactive oxygen species, where the type of damage induced is characteristic of the denaturing species. The induction of protein carbonyls is a widely applied biomarker, arising from primary oxidative insult. However, when applied to complex biological and pathological conditions it can be subject to interference from lipid, carbohydrate and DNA oxidation products. More recently, interest has focused on the analysis of specific protein bound oxidised amino acids. Of the 22 amino acids, aromatic and sulphydryl containing residues have been regarded as being particularly susceptible to oxidative modification, with L-DOPA from tyrosine, ortho-tyrosine from phenylalanine; sulphoxides and disulphides from methionine and cysteine respectively; and kynurenines from tryptophan. Latterly, the identification of valine and leucine hydroxides, reduced from hydroperoxide intermediates, has been described and applied. In order to examine the nature of oxidative damage and protective efficacy of antioxidants the markers must be thoroughly evaluated for dosimetry in vitro following damage by specific radical species. Antioxidant protection against formation of the biomarker should be demonstrated in vitro. Quantification of biomarkers in proteins from normal subjects should be within the limits of detection of any analytical procedure. Further to this, the techniques for isolation and hydrolysis of specific proteins should demonstrate that in vitro oxidation is minimised. There is a need for the development of standards for quality assurance material to standardise procedures between laboratories. At present, antioxidant effects on protein oxidation in vivo are limited to animal studies, where dietary antioxidants have been reported to reduce dityrosine formation during rat exercise training. Two studies on humans have been reported last year. The further application of these methods to human studies is indicated, where the quality of the determinations will be enhanced through inter-laboratory validation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S47-S58
JournalFree Radical Research
Issue numberSupplement
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2000

Bibliographical note

This is an electronic version of an article published in Griffiths, Helen R. (2000) Antioxidants and protein oxidation. Free Radical Research, 33 Supplement. S47-S58. ISSN 1071-5762. Free Radical Research is available online at:


  • nitric oxide
  • oxidised amino acids
  • protein carbonyls
  • reactive oxygen species
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E


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