The oxidative degradation of plasmalogen (alkenylacyl) phospholipids was analysed in the absence and the presence of polyunsaturated ester phospholipids by 1H-NMR and by chemical determination. Brain lysoplasmenylethanolamine (lyso-P-PE), brain P-PE and erythrocyte P-PE, containing an increasing number of intrachain double bonds at sn2, were oxidized with 2,2´-azobis-(2-amidinopropane hydrochloride) (AAPH; 2 or 10 mM) in Triton X-100 micelles (detergent/phospholipid 1:5, mol/mol). The formation of two peroxyl radicals was accompanied by the degradation of approx. one molecule of brain lyso-P-PE. On oxidation of brain P-PE or erythrocyte P-PE (320 nmol) with 2 mM AAPH, the (α-vinyl) methine 1H signal of the enol ether decreased more rapidly than the methine proton peak of intrachain double bonds. The rate of enol ether degradation increased in the order: erythrocyte P-PE > brain P-PE > brain lyso-P-PE. The disappearance of the polyunsaturated ester phospholipids 1-palmitoyl-2-arachidonoyl phosphatidylcholine (16:0/20:4-PC) and 1-palmitoyl-2-linoleoyl phosphatidylcholine (16:0/18:2-PC) (100 nmol), as induced by 10 mM AAPH, was nearly completely inhibited by the plasmalogens (25 nmol) in the first 30 and 60 min of incubation respectively, and was delayed at later time points. Plasmalogens and vitamin E (4–25 nmol) mitigated the decreases in 16:0/[3H]20:4-PC (100 nmol) induced by 2 mM AAPH in a similar manner. The initial rate of degradation of intrachain double bonds of 16:0/20:4-PC and 16:0/18:2-PC (320 nmol; 2 mM AAPH) was decreased by 59% and 81% respectively in the presence of 80 nmol of brain lyso-P-PE. In conclusion, plasmalogens markedly delay the oxidative degradation of intrachain double bonds under in vitro conditions. Interactions of enol ether double bonds with initiating peroxyl radicals as well as with products generated by prior oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids are proposed to be responsible for this capacity of plasmalogens. Furthermore, the products of enol ether oxidation apparently do not propagate the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

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