The radioprotective agent, amifostine, suppresses the reactivity of intralysosomal iron.

Redox report : communications in free radical research

PubMedID: 14980067

Yu Z, Eaton JW, Persson HL. The radioprotective agent, amifostine, suppresses the reactivity of intralysosomal iron. Redox Rep. 2004;8(6):347-55.
Amifostine (2-[(3-aminopropyl)amino]ethane-thiol dihydrogen phosphate ester; WR-2721) is a radioprotective agent used clinically to minimize damage from radiation therapy to adjacent normal tissues. This inorganic thiophosphate requires dephosphorylation to produce the active, cell-permeant thiol metabolite, WR-1065. The activation step is presumably catalyzed by membrane-bound alkaline phosphatase, activity of which is substantially higher in the endothelium of normal tissues. This site-specific delivery may explain the preferential protection of normal versus neoplastic tissues. Although it was developed several decades ago, the mechanisms through which this agent exerts its protective effects remain unknown. Because WR-1065 is a weak base (pKa = 9.2), we hypothesized that the drug should preferentially accumulate (via proton trapping) within the acidic environment of intracellular lysosomes. These organelles contain abundant 'loose' iron and represent a likely initial target for oxidant- and radiation-mediated damage. We further hypothesized that, within the lysosomal compartment, the thiol groups of WR-1065 would interact with this iron, thereby minimizing iron-catalyzed lysosomal damage and ensuing cell death. A similar mechanism of protection via intralysosomal iron chelation has been invoked for the hexadentate iron chelator, desferrioxamine (DFO; although DFO enters the lysosomal compartment by endocytosis, not proton trapping). Using cultured J774 cells as a model system, we found substantial accumulation of WR-1065 within intracellular granules as revealed by reaction with the thiol-binding fluorochrome, BODIPY FL L-cystine. These granules are lysosomes as indicated by co-localization of BODIPY staining with LysoTracker Red. Compared to 1 mM DFO, cells pre-treated with 0.4 microM WR-1065 are protected from hydrogen peroxide-mediated lysosomal rupture and ensuing cell death. On a molar basis in this experimental system, WR-1065 is approximately 2500 times more effective than DFO in preventing oxidant-induced lysosomal rupture and cell death. This increased effectiveness is most likely due to the preferential concentration of this weak base within the acidic lysosomal apparatus. By electron spin resonance, we found that the generation of hydroxyl radical, which normally occurs following addition of hydrogen peroxide to J774 cells, is totally blocked by pretreatment with either WR-1065 or DFO. These findings suggest a single and plausible explanation for the radioprotective effects of amifostine and may provide a basis for the design of even more effective radio- and chemoprotective drugs.