The reaction of HOCl and cyanocobalamin: Corrin destruction and the liberation of cyanogen chloride

Husam M. Abu-Soud, Dhiman Maitra, Jaeman Byun, Carlos Eduardo A. Souza, Jashoman Banerjee, Ghassan M. Saed, Michael P. Diamond, Peter R. Andreana, Subramaniam Pennathur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Overproduction of hypochlorous acid (HOCl) has been associated with the development of a variety of disorders such as inflammation, heart disease, pulmonary fibrosis, and cancer through its ability to modify various biomolecules. HOCl is a potent oxidant generated by the myeloperoxidase-hydrogen peroxide-chloride system. Recently, we have provided evidence to support the important link between higher levels of HOCl and heme destruction and free iron release from hemoglobin and RBCs. Our current findings extend this work and show the ability of HOCl to mediate the destruction of metal-ion derivatives of tetrapyrrole macrocyclic rings, such as cyanocobalamin (Cobl), a common pharmacological form of vitamin B12. Cyanocobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an essential role as an enzyme cofactor and antioxidant, modulating nucleic acid metabolism and gene regulation. It is widely used as a therapeutic agent and supplement, because of its efficacy and stability. In this report, we demonstrate that although Cobl can be an excellent antioxidant, exposure to high levels of HOCl can overcome the beneficial effects of Cobl and generate proinflammatory reaction products. Our rapid kinetic, HPLC, and mass spectrometric analyses showed that HOCl can mediate corrin ring destruction and liberate cyanogen chloride (CNCl) through a mechanism that initially involves α-axial ligand replacement in Cobl to form a chlorinated derivative, hydrolysis, and cleavage of the phosphonucleotide moiety. Additionally, it can liberate free Co, which can perpetuate metal-ion-induced oxidant stress. Taken together, these results are the first report of the generation of toxic molecular products through the interaction of Cobl with HOCl.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-625
Number of pages10
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cobalt
  • Corrin
  • Cyanogen chloride
  • Free metal toxicity
  • Free radicals
  • Inflammation
  • Mammalian peroxidases
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Oxidative stress
  • Porphyrin
  • Stopped-flow
  • Vitamin B12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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