The initial aim of this study was to investigate how charge and other chemical properties of some radical scavengers influence the radiation-induced formation of 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dG) in two model systems. The target molecule, deoxyguanosine (dG), was either organized in the DNA-helix form or present as a free nucleoside in an aerated aqueous phosphate buffer. Samples were irradiated with 137 Cs γ rays, alone or in the presence of different thiols, alcohols or ascorbate with net charges from -1 to +1. The formation of 8-oxo-dG was assayed with reverse-phase HPLC coupled to an electrochemical detector. In the absence of radical scavengers, the radiation-induced formation of 8-oxo-dG in DNA was extensive, and the ratio for formation of 8-oxo-dG was 20-fold higher for DNA compared to dG. The yields of 8-oxo-dG in DNA and dG were <tex-math>$7.7\times 10^{-3}\ \mu {\rm mol}\ {\rm J}^{-1}$</tex-math> and <tex-math>$3.8\times 10^{-4}\ \mu {\rm mol}\ {\rm J}^{-1}$</tex-math>, respectively. Yield-dose plots showed that the efficiency of the positively charged thiol cysteamine to counteract the radiation-induced formation of 8-oxo-dG in DNA was significantly (P < 0.001) greater compared to the uncharged or negatively charged thiols. Uncharged thiols were significantly (0.001 < P < 0.05) more effective in protecting DNA compared to negatively charged thiols. In contrast to the protection against oxidative damage provided by thiols and ascorbate when they were present during irradiation of DNA, the formation of 8-oxo-dG was significantly increased when these compounds were present during irradiation of dG in solution. Compared to the irradiated control, the increase was 11- to 116-fold for thiols and ascorbate, respectively. The enhanced oxidative damage of dG observed in the presence of ascorbate or thiols suggests that secondarily formed radicals from thiols or ascorbate may react with dG, or that transformation of different primary sites of damage on dG to 8-oxo-dG is enhanced.

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