Formation of free radicals in golden hamster embryo (GHE) cells in the frozen living state by γ irradiation has been studied by electron spin resonance spectroscopy at 4.2 and 77 K. The relative yields of H atoms, OH radicals, and organic radicals trapped in the irradiated GHE cells are 12, 72, and 16%, respectively, of total radical yields. When dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) is added to GHE cells at 77 K, a large quantity of${}^{\bullet}{\rm CH}{}_{2}{\rm SOCH}_{3}$ radicals (DMSO radicals) are formed after γ irradiation. The yields of OH radicals are not affected by the addition of DMSO. When the GHE cell-DMSO mixtures are irradiated with γ rays at 77 K and then warmed to 111 K, the OH radicals decay, whereas the DMSO radicals do not increase complementarily. Moreover, the decay rates of the OH radicals at 111 K do not depend upon the concentration of DMSO. Thus OH radicals do not react with DMSO during warming of the irradiated sample. When H atoms are produced by γ irradiation of acid ice at 60 K, the decay rates of the H atoms at 77 K increase with increasing DMSO concentration, indicating that DMSO reacts with H atoms (${\rm CH}_{3}{\rm SOCH}_{3}+{\rm H}\rightarrow {}^{\bullet}{\rm CH}{}_{2}{\rm SOCH}_{3}+{\rm H}_{2}$) at 77 K by quantum-mechanical tunneling. When the GHE cell-DMSO mixture is irradiated with γ rays at 77 or 4.2 K in the dark, DMSO ions are produced in addition to DMSO radicals. Therefore it is concluded that DMSO does not scavenge OH radicals, but does capture H atoms, holes and/or electrons in the γ-irradiated cells, resulting in the remarkable formation of DMSO radicals. This scavenger effect of DMSO may be related to the radioprotection of DMSO against cell killing described in the companion paper (Watanabe et al., Radiat. Res., this issue).

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