Differential coordination demands in Fe versus Mn water-soluble cationic metalloporphyrins translate into remarkably different aqueous redox chemistry and biology.


The different biological behavior of cationic Fe and Mn pyridylporphyrins in Escherichia coli and mouse studies prompted us to revisit and compare their chemistry. For that purpose, the series of ortho and meta isomers of Fe(III) meso-tetrakis-N-alkylpyridylporphyrins, alkyl being methyl to n-octyl, were synthesized and characterized by elemental analysis, UV/vis spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, lipophilicity, protonation equilibria of axial waters, metal-centered reduction potential, E(1/2) for M(III)P/M(II)P redox couple (M = Fe, Mn, P = porphyrin), kcat for the catalysis of O2(•-) dismutation, stability toward peroxide-driven porphyrin oxidative degradation (produced in the catalysis of ascorbate oxidation by MP), ability to affect growth of SOD-deficient E. coli, and toxicity to mice. Electron-deficiency of the metal site is modulated by the porphyrin ligand, which renders Fe(III) porphyrins ≥5 orders of magnitude more acidic than the analogous Mn(III) porphyrins, as revealed by the pKa1 of axially coordinated waters. The 5 log units difference in the acidity between the Mn and Fe sites in porphyrin translates into the predominance of tetracationic (OH)(H2O)FeP complexes relative to pentacationic (H2O)2MnP species at pH ∼7.8. This is additionally evidenced in large differences in the E(1/2) values of M(III)P/M(II)P redox couples. The presence of hydroxo ligand labilizes trans-axial water which results in higher reactivity of Fe relative to Mn center. The differences in the catalysis of O2(•-) dismutation (log kcat) between Fe and Mn porphyrins is modest, 2.5-5-fold, due to predominantly outer-sphere, with partial inner-sphere character of two reaction steps. However, the rate constant for the inner-sphere H2O2-based porphyrin oxidative degradation is 18-fold larger for (OH)(H2O)FeP than for (H2O)2MnP. The in vivo consequences of the differences between the Fe and Mn porphyrins were best demonstrated in SOD-deficient E. coli growth. On the basis of fairly similar log kcat(O2(•-)) values, a very similar effect on the growth of SOD-deficient E. coli was anticipated by both metalloporphyrins. Yet, while (H2O)2MnTE-2-PyP(5+) was fully efficacious at ≥20 μM, the Fe analogue (OH)(H2O)FeTE-2-PyP(4+) supported SOD-deficient E. coli growth at as much as 200-fold lower doses in the range of 0.1-1 μM. Moreover the pattern of SOD-deficient E. coli growth was different with Mn and Fe porphyrins. Such results suggested a different mode of action of these metalloporphyrins. Further exploration demonstrated that (1) 0.1 μM (OH)(H2O)FeTE-2-PyP(4+) provided similar growth stimulation as the 0.1 μM Fe salt, while the 20 μM Mn salt provides no protection to E. coli; and (2) 1 μM Fe porphyrin is fully degraded by 12 h in E. coli cytosol and growth medium, while Mn porphyrin is not. Stimulation of the aerobic growth of SOD-deficient E. coli by the Fe porphyrin is therefore due to iron acquisition. Our data suggest that in vivo, redox-driven degradation of Fe porphyrins resulting in Fe release plays a major role in their biological action. Possibly, iron reconstitutes enzymes bearing [4Fe-4S] clusters as active sites. Under the same experimental conditions, (OH)(H2O)FePs do not cause mouse arterial hypotension, whereas (H2O)2MnPs do, which greatly limits the application of Mn porphyrins in vivo.





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Publication Info

Tovmasyan, Artak, Tin Weitner, Huaxin Sheng, MiaoMiao Lu, Zrinka Rajic, David S Warner, Ivan Spasojevic, Julio S Reboucas, et al. (2013). Differential coordination demands in Fe versus Mn water-soluble cationic metalloporphyrins translate into remarkably different aqueous redox chemistry and biology. Inorganic chemistry, 52(10). pp. 5677–5691. 10.1021/ic3012519 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23281.

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Huaxin Sheng

Associate Professor in Anesthesiology

We have successfully developed various rodent models of brain and spinal cord injuries in our lab, such as focal cerebral ischemia, global cerebral ischemia, head trauma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage, spinal cord ischemia and compression injury. We also established cardiac arrest and hemorrhagic shock models for studying multiple organ dysfunction.  Our current studies focus on two projects. One is to examine the efficacy of catalytic antioxidant in treating cerebral ischemia and the other is to examine the efficacy of post-conditioning on outcome of subarachnoid hemorrhage induced cognitive dysfunction.


Ivan Spasojevic

Associate Professor in Medicine

Ines Batinic-Haberle

Professor Emeritus of Radiation Oncology

            A major interest of mine has been in the design and synthesis of Mn porphyrin(MnP)-based powerful catalytic antioxidants which helped establish structure-activity relationship (SAR). It relates the redox property of metalloporphyrins to their ability to remove superoxide. SAR has facilitated the design of redox-active therapeutics and served as a tool for mechanistic considerations. Importantly SAR parallels the magnitude of the therapeutic potential of SOD mimics and is valid for all classes of redox-active compounds. Two lead Mn porphyrins are already in five Phase II clinical trials (reviewed in Batinic-Haberle et al, Oxid Med Cell Longevity 2021). Recent research suggests immense potential of MnPs in cardiac diseases. MnTE-2-PyP (AEOL10113, BMX-010) prevents and treats cardiac arrhythmia, while MnTnBuOE-2-PyP (BMX-001) fully suppressed the development of aortic sclerosis in mice. The latter result is relevant to the cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. In addition to breast cancer, in collaboration with Angeles Alvarez Secord, MD, MHSc, we have recently shown the anticancer effects of Mn porphyrin/ascorbate in cellular and mouse models of ovarian cancer.

            In parallel with synthetic efforts, I have also been interested in the mechanistic aspects of differential actions of Mn porphyrins in normal vs tumor tissue. In-depth studies of chemistry and biology of the reactions of MnPs with redox-active agents relevant to cancer therapy – ascorbate, chemotherapy and radiation – set ground for understanding the role of thermodynamics and kinetics in the mechanism of action of Mn porphyrins. Mechanistic studies have been revealed in Batinic-Haberle et al, Antioxidant Redox Signal 2018, Batinic-Haberle and Tome, Redox Biology 2019 and Batinic-Haberle et al Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2021. My research has resulted in over 230 publications, 18 268 citations and an h-index of 64. For my achievements, I have been awarded the 2021 Discovery Award from the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine, SfRBM.

Additional Training

  • Postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Alvin Crumbliss in the field of Bioinorganic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Duke University
  • Postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Irwin Fridovich in the field of Redox Biology, Department of Biochemistry, Duke University School of Medicine

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