The role of xanthine oxidase in paraquat intoxication

Arch Biochem Biophys. 1991 Jul;288(1):220-4. doi: 10.1016/0003-9861(91)90187-n.


The role of xanthine oxidase in the mechanism of paraquat toxicity was assessed by in vitro and in vivo experiments. Paraquat stimulated the reduction of cytochrome c by xanthine-xanthine oxidase system in vitro. Paraquat, when added in vitro, stimulated hypoxanthine-dependent superoxide production in the cytosol of rat lung. Tungsten-feeding inhibits xanthine oxidase activity in a variety of tissues in experimental animals. Its therapeutic effect on paraquat intoxication was studied in this paper. In rats fed a tungsten-enriched diet for 5 weeks prior to intraperitoneal injection of 50 mg/kg paraquat dichloride, the mortality decreased significantly compared with rats fed a standard diet. Pretreatment with oxypurinol (1000 mg/kg, s.c.) also ameliorated the paraquat toxicity in rats. We conclude that xanthine oxidase plays an important role in paraquat toxicity and that xanthine oxidase inhibitors may become antidotes for paraquat intoxication.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytochrome c Group / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Oxypurinol / pharmacology
  • Paraquat / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Paraquat / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Thiobarbiturates / metabolism
  • Tungsten / pharmacology
  • Xanthine Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Xanthine Oxidase / metabolism*


  • Cytochrome c Group
  • Thiobarbiturates
  • Superoxides
  • Xanthine Dehydrogenase
  • Xanthine Oxidase
  • Oxypurinol
  • thiobarbituric acid
  • Paraquat
  • Tungsten