Synthesis and biochemical applications of a solid cyclic nitrone spin trap: a relatively superior trap for detecting superoxide anions and glutathiyl radicals

Free Radic Biol Med. 2001 Sep 1;31(5):599-606. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5849(01)00619-0.


A novel cyclic nitrone spin trap, 5-tert-butoxycarbonyl 5-methyl-1-pyrroline N-oxide (BMPO) as a pure white solid has been synthesized for the first time. BMPO offers several advantages over the existing spin traps in the detection and characterization of thiyl radicals, hydroxyl radicals, and superoxide anions in biological systems. The corresponding BMPO adducts exhibit distinct and characteristic electron spin resonance (ESR) spectral patterns. Unlike the 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrroline N-oxide (DMPO)-derived superoxide adduct, the BMPO superoxide adduct does not non-enzymatically decompose to the BMPO hydroxyl adduct. This feature is clearly perceived as a definite advantage of BMPO in its biological applications. In addition, the ESR spectrum of the BMPO glutathionyl adduct (BMPO/*SG) does not fully overlap with the spectrum of its hydroxyl adduct. This spectral feature is again distinctly different from that of DMPO because the ESR spectral lines of DMPO glutathionyl and hydroxyl radical adducts largely overlap. Finally, the ESR spectra of BMPO-derived adducts exhibit a much higher signal-to-noise ratio in biological systems. These favorable chemical and spectroscopic features make BMPO ideal for the detection of superoxide anions, hydroxyl and thiyl radicals in biochemical oxidation and reduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cyclic N-Oxides / chemical synthesis*
  • Cyclic N-Oxides / pharmacology*
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Free Radicals / analysis*
  • Glutathione / analysis*
  • Hydroxyl Radical / analysis
  • Nitrogen Oxides / chemical synthesis*
  • Nitrogen Oxides / pharmacology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spin Labels
  • Spin Trapping / methods
  • Superoxides / analysis*


  • 5-tert-butoxycarbonyl 5-methyl-1-pyrroline N-oxide
  • Cyclic N-Oxides
  • Free Radicals
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Spin Labels
  • nitrones
  • Superoxides
  • Hydroxyl Radical
  • Glutathione