The inclusion of uric acid in the incubation medium during copper-induced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation exerted either an antioxidant or pro-oxidant effect. The pro-oxidant effect, as mirrored by an enhanced formation of conjugated dienes, lipid peroxides, thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances and increase in negative charge, occurred when uric acid was added late during the inhibitory or lag phase and during the subsequent extensive propagation phase of copper-stimulated LDL oxidation. The pro-oxidant effect of uric acid was specific for copper-induced LDL oxidation and required the presence of copper as either Cu(I) or Cu(II). In addition, it became much more evident when the copper to LDL molar ratio was below a threshold value of approx. 50. In native LDL, the shift between the antioxidant and the pro-oxidant activities was related to the availability of lipid hydroperoxides formed during the early phases of copper-promoted LDL oxidation. The artificial enrichment of isolated LDL with α-tocopherol delayed the onset of the pro-oxidant activity of uric acid and also decreased the rate of stimulated lipid peroxidation. However, previous depletion of α-tocopherol was not a prerequisite for unmasking the pro-oxidant activity of uric acid, since this became apparent even when α-tocopherol was still present in significant amounts (more than 50% of the original values) in LDL. These results suggest, irrespective of the levels of endogenous α-tocopherol, that uric acid may enhance LDL oxidation by reducing Cu(II) to Cu(I), thus making more Cu(I) available for subsequent radical decomposition of lipid peroxides and propagation reactions.

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