An important role of carbonate/bicarbonate ions has been recognized in the superoxide generating reaction of adrenaline autooxidation in an alkaline buffer (a model of quinoid adrenaline oxidation in the body). It is suggested that these ions are directly involved not only in formation of superoxide anion radical (О2 -·) but also other radicals derived from the carbonate/bicarbonate buffer. Using various buffers it was shown that the rate of accumulation of adrenochrome, the end product of adrenaline oxidation, and the rate of О2 -· formation depend on concentration of carbonate/bicarbonate ions in the buffer and that these ions significantly accelerate adrenaline autooxidation thus demonstrating prooxidant properties. The detectable amount of diformazan, the product of nitro blue tetrazolium (NBT) reduction, was significantly higher than the amount of adrenochrome formed; taking into consideration the literature data on О2 -· detection by NBT it is suggested that adrenaline autooxidation is accompanied by one-electron reduction not only of oxygen dissolved in the buffer and responsible for superoxide formation but possible carbon dioxide also dissolved in the buffer as well as carbonate/bicarbonate buffer components leading to formation of corresponding radicals. The plots of the dependence of the inhibition of adrenochrome and diformazan formation on the superoxide dismutase concentration have shown that not only superoxide radicals are formed during adrenaline autooxidation. Since carbonate/bicarbonate ions are known to be universally present in the living nature, their involvement in free radical processes proceeding in the organism is discussed.
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