Thioctic (lipoic) acid: a therapeutic metal-chelating antioxidant?
Biochem Pharmacol. 1995 Jun 29;50(1):123-6. PMID: 7605337
Department of Medicine, University College London Medical School, U.K.
Thioctic (alpha-lipoic) acid (TA) is a drug used for the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy in Germany. It has been proposed that TA acts as an antioxidant and interferes with the pathogenesis of diabetic polyneuropathy. We suggest that one component of its antioxidant activity requiring study is the direct transition metal-chelating activity of the drug. We found that TA had a profound dose-dependent inhibitory effect upon Cu(2+)-catalysed ascorbic acid oxidation (monitored by O2 uptake and spectrophotometrically at 265 nm) and also increased the partition of Cu2+ into n-octanol from an aqueous solution suggesting that TA forms a lipophilic complex with Cu2+. TA also inhibited Cu(2+)-catalysed liposomal peroxidation. Furthermore, TA inhibited intracellular H2O2 production in erythrocytes challenged with ascorbate, a process thought to be mediated by loosely chelated Cu2+ within the erythrocyte. These data, taken together, suggest that prior intracellular reduction of TA to dihydrolipoic acid is not an obligatory mechanism for an antioxidant effect of the drug, which may also operate via Cu(2+)-chelation. The R-enantiomer and racemic mixture of the drug (alpha-TA) generally seemed more effective than the S-enantiomer in these assays of metal chelation.