Cysteine-iron promotes arginase activity by driving the Fenton reaction

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Nov 7;376(1):116-20. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.08.102. Epub 2008 Aug 30.


Impairment of nitric oxide bioavailability secondary to increased arginase activity and overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is thought to be a major cause of vascular complications in sickle cell disease (SCD). However, the role of ROS in the induction of arginase activity is unknown. This study investigated whether the mechanism of arginase activation involves the ROS produced during oxidative stress. Our study reveals that cysteine-iron dose-dependently stimulated arginase activity with a corresponding increase in (.)OH radical formation. The ()OH radicals produced were significantly inhibited by salicylic acid derivatives and superoxide dismutase. Surprisingly, the inhibition of (.)OH radicals parallels the inhibition of arginase activity, thus suggesting the role of cysteine-iron in the stimulation of arginase via the Fenton reaction. This is the first evidence demonstrating the participation of (.)OH radicals in the stimulation of arginase activity, and thus provides novel avenues for therapeutic modalities in hemoglobinopathies and other inflammation-mediated diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / enzymology*
  • Arginase / drug effects*
  • Arginase / metabolism
  • Cysteine / pharmacology*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / enzymology*
  • Humans
  • Iron / pharmacology*
  • Salicylic Acid / pharmacology
  • Superoxide Dismutase / pharmacology
  • Superoxides / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Superoxides / metabolism


  • Superoxides
  • Iron
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Arginase
  • Cysteine
  • Salicylic Acid