Oxidation In Proteins

Proteins are subjected to chemical reactions due to many reactive side-chain groups of the amino acids. The reactivity of these amino acids depends on their chemical nature, and very much on the environment in which they are placed. The pH of the system has a strong influence on the reaction. Depending on the particular pKa, the side-chain group may be protonated or nonprotonated, and in general, it is the least protonated form that is most nucleophilic and reactive. The accessibility of the various groups also determines their differences in reactivity under a particular set of conditions.

The Hydroxy Radical

Proteins are very reactive toward reactive oxygen species generated by radiolysis of water in biological and food systems (11) (Scheme 5). Aromatic amino acids react with hydroxy radical (OH-), forming substituted cyclohexadienyl radicals (13). All sulfur-containing amino acids react at diffusion-controlled rates. The radical intermediates have been demonstrated to form cross-linked products between proteins and DNA (9,14).

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The Mediterranean Diet Meltdown

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