Peroxynitrite-mediated oxidation of dihydrorhodamine 123

Neil W. Kooy, James A. Royall, Harry Ischiropoulos, Joseph S. Beckman

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688 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide reacts with superoxide to form peroxynitrite, which may be an important mediator of free radical-induced cellular injury. Oxidation of dihydrorhodamine to fluorescent rhodamine is a marker of cellular oxidant production. We investigated the mechanisms of peroxynitrite-mediated formation of rhodamine from dihydrorhodamine. Peroxynitrite at low levels (0-1000 nM) induced a linear, concentration-dependent, oxidation of dihydrorhodamine. Hydroxyl radical scavengers mannitol and dimethylsulfoxide had minimal effect (< 10%) on rhodamine production. Peroxynitrite-mediated formation of rhodamine was not dependent on metal ion catalyzed reactions because studies were performed in metal ion-free buffer and rhodamine formation was not enhanced in the presence of Fe3+ ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). Thus, rhodamine formation appears to be mediated directly by peroxynitrite. Superoxide dismutase slightly enhanced rhodamine production. L-cysteine was an efficient inhibitor (KI ∼ 25 μM) of dihydrorhodamine oxidation through competetive oxidation of free sulfhydryls. Urate was also an efficient inhibitor (KI ∼ 2.5 μM), possibly by reduction of an intermediate dihydrorhodamine radical and recycling of dihydrorhodamine. Under anaerobic conditions, nitric oxide did not oxidize dihydrorhodamine and inhibited spontaneous oxidation of dihydrorhodamine. In the presence of oxygen, nitric oxide induces a relatively slow oxidation of dihydrorhodamine due to the formation of nitrogen dioxide. We conclude that dihydrorhodamine is a sensitive and efficient trap for peroxynitrite and may serve as a probe for peroxynitrite production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-156
Number of pages8
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements -- This work was supported, in part, by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant P30 HD28831 (JAR) and NIH HL 46407 (JSB). N. W. Kooy is a Dixon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Pediatrics at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. J. A. Royall is an American Lung Association Edward Livingston Trudeau Scholar. J. S. Beckman is an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association.


  • Dihydrorhodamine
  • Free radicals
  • Nitric oxide
  • Peroxynitrite
  • Rhodamine


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