Enhancement of reactive oxygen-dependent mitochondrial membrane lipid peroxidation by the anticancer drug adriamycin

Edward G. Mimnaugh, Michael A. Trush, Mohit Bhatnagar, Theodore E. Gram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial degeneration is a consistently prominent morphological alteration associated with adriamycin toxicity which may be the consequence of adriamycin-enhanced peroxidative damage to unsaturated mitochondrial membrane lipids. Using isolated rat liver mitochondria as an in vitro model system to study the effects of the anticancer drug adriamycin on lipid peroxidation, we found that NADH-dependent mitochondrial peroxidation-measured by the 2-thiobarbituric acid method- was stimulated by adriamycin as much as 4-fold. Marker enzyme analysis indicated that the mitochondria were substantially free of contaminating microsomes (<5%). Lipid peroxidation in mitochondria incubated in KCl-Tris-HCl buffer (pH 7.4) under an oxygen atmosphere was optimal at 1-2 mg of mitochondrial protein/ml and with NADH at 2.5 mM. Malonaldehyde production was linear with time to beyond 60 min, and the maximum enhancement of peroxidation was observed with adriamycin at 50-100 μM. Interestingly, in contrast to its stimulatory effect on NADH-supported mitochondrial peroxidation, adriamycin markedly diminished ascorbate-promoted lipid peroxidation in mitochondria. Superoxide dismutase, catalase, 1,3-dimethylurea, reduced glutathione, α-tocopherol and EDTA added to incubation mixtures inhibited endogenous and adriamycin-augmented NADH-dependent peroxidation of mitochondrial lipids, indicating that multiple species of reactive oxygen (superoxide anion radical, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical) and possibly trace amounts of endogenous ferric iron participated in the peroxidation reactions. In submitochondrial particles freed of endogenous defenses against oxyradicals, lipid peroxidation was increased 7-fold by adriamycin. These observations suggest that some of the effects of adriamycin on mitochondrial morphology and biochemical function may be mediated by adriamycin-enhanced reactive oxygen-dependent mitochondrial lipid peroxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-856
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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