Singlet Oxygen

Singlet oxygen is a high-energy form of oxygen that can directly interact with unsaturated fatty acids to form lipid peroxides (17). Singlet oxygen is most commonly formed from the interaction of oxygen with light-activated photo-sensitizers such as chlorophyll and riboflavin. Singlet oxygen can be inactivated by both chemical and physical mechanisms. Chemical inactivation occurs when singlet oxygen attacks the double bonds of compounds whose oxidation does not result in the development of rancidity (eg, carotenoids, tocopherols, amino acids, peptides, proteins, phenolics, and ascorbate) (17,18). Carotenoids can also inactivate singlet oxygen by physically quenching singlet oxygen through a transfer of energy from singlet oxygen to the carotenoid. The resulting excited state of the carote-noid then returns to its ground state by the slow dissipation of energy to the surrounding media (17). Similarly, carotenoids can absorb energy from photoactivated sensitizers, thereby decreasing their ability to promote the conversion of oxygen to singlet oxygen. For a carotenoid to be capable of the physical quenching of singlet oxygen it must possess a minimum of nine double bonds (19).

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