Superoxide is involved in the pathogenesis of various diseases, such as inflammation, ischemia-reperfusion injury and carcinogenesis. Superoxide dismutases (SODs) catalyze the disproportionation reaction of superoxide to produce oxygen and hydrogen peroxide, and can protect living cells against the toxicity of free radicals derived from oxygen. Thus, SODs and their functional mimics have potential value as pharmaceuticals. We have previously reported that Fe(II)tetrakis-N,N,N',N'-(2-pyridylmethyl)ethylenediamine (Fe(II)TPEN) has an excellent SOD activity (IC50 = 0.5 microM) among many iron complexes examined (J. Biol. Chem., 264, 9243-9249 (1989)). Fe(II)TPEN can act like native SOD in living cells, and protect Escherichia coli cells from free radical toxicity caused by paraquat. In order to develop more effective SOD functional mimics, we synthesized Fe(II)TPEN derivatives with electron-donating or electron-withdrawing groups at the 4-position of all pyridines of TPEN, and measured the SOD activities and the redox potentials of these complexes. Fe(II) tetrakis-N,N,N',N'-(4-methoxy-2-pyridylmethyl)ethylenediamine (Fe(II)(4MeO)4TPEN) had the highest SOD activity (IC50 = 0.1 microM) among these iron-based SOD mimics. In addition, a good correlation was found between the redox potential and the SOD activity of 15 Fe(II) complexes, including iron-based SOD mimics reported in the previous paper (J. Organometal. Chem., in press). Iron-based SOD mimics may be clinically applicable, because these complexes are generally tissue-permeable and show low toxicity. Therefore our findings should be significant for the development of clinically useful SOD mimics.
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