The peroxidation of membrane phospholipids induced in vitro by ascorbic acid or by dialuric acid (hydroxybarbituric acid) does not occur in the absence of traces of metal ions. Peroxidation induced by adding iron salts to phospholipids can either be promoted or inhibited by the chelators EDTA, diethylenetriaminepenta-acetic acid and bathophenanthrolinesulphonate, depending on the ratio [chelator]/[iron salt]. The iron chelator desferrioxamine inhibits peroxidation at all concentrations tested, and it also inhibits the iron-catalysed formation of hydroxyl radicals (OH.) from superoxide (O2-.). Since desferrioxamine is approved for clinical use, it might prove a valuable tool in the treatment of inflammation, poisoning by autoxidizable molecules and radiation damage.

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