Prevention of iron- and copper-mediated DNA damage by catecholamine and amino acid neurotransmitters, l-DOPA, and curcumin: Metal binding as a general antioxidant mechanism

Carla R. García, Carlos Angelé-Martínez, Jenna A. Wilkes, Hsiao-Chuan Wang, Erin E. Battin, Julia L. Brumaghim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


Concentrations of labile iron and copper are elevated in patients with neurological disorders, causing interest in metal-neurotransmitter interactions. Catecholamine (dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) and amino acid (glycine, glutamate, and 4-aminobutyrate) neurotransmitters are antioxidants also known to bind metal ions. To investigate the role of metal binding as an antioxidant mechanism for these neurotransmitters, l-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA), and curcumin, their abilities to prevent iron- and copper-mediated DNA damage were quantified, cyclic voltammetry was used to determine the relationship between their redox potentials and DNA damage prevention, and UV-vis studies were conducted to determine iron and copper binding as well as iron oxidation rates. In contrast to amino acid neurotransmitters, catecholamine neurotransmitters, l-DOPA, and curcumin prevent significant iron-mediated DNA damage (IC 50 values of 3.2 to 18 μM) and are electrochemically active. However, glycine and glutamate are more effective at preventing copper-mediated DNA damage (IC 50 values of 35 and 12.9 μM, respectively) than l-DOPA, the only catecholamine to prevent this damage (IC 50 = 73 μM). This metal-mediated DNA damage prevention is directly related to the metal-binding behaviour of these compounds. When bound to iron or copper, the catecholamines, amino acids, and curcumin significantly shift iron oxidation potentials and stabilize Fe 3+ over Fe 2+ and Cu 2+ over Cu +, a factor that may prevent metal redox cycling in vivo. These results highlight the disparate antioxidant activities of neurotransmitters, drugs, and supplements and highlight the importance of considering metal binding when identifying antioxidants to treat and prevent neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6458-6467
Number of pages10
JournalDalton Transactions
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Jun 7 2012
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Inorganic Chemistry

Cite this