Generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) leads to the oxidation of macromolecules such as DNA, lipids and proteins, generating various compounds such as oxidized nucleotides, alkanes, aldehydes and oxidized amino acids. Lipid peroxidation is the most extensively studied process among all mechanisms of free radical damage. The ROS oxidation of phospholipid on cell membrane leads to the esterification in the sn-1 and sn-2 glyceride positions of polyunsaturated fatty acids PUFAs. The unstable lipid hydroperoxide and the secondary carbonyl compounds like aldehydic products are those esterified compounds. Linoleic acid (C18:2), oleic acid (C18:1), and arachidonic acid (C20:4) are the main PUFAs in epithelial pulmonary cells. The Oxidation of these compounds plays an important role in pathobiology of the lung because of its large exchanging surface with oxygen and other environmental pollutants contaminated in inhaled air.
The end products of peroxidation are C3–C10 straight-chain aldehydes such as MDA and various α, β-unsaturated aldehydes such as acrolein and 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE). Some aldehydes are toxic. For example, acrolein and HNE are toxic to nervous system.
Malondial-dehyde (MDA) is a highly reactive three-carbon dialdehyde of lipid peroxidation products and also plays an important role for the synthesis of prostaglandins and arachidonic acid metabolism. MDA is the commonly used marker of oxidative stress. MDA is can be determined in various of biological samples, such as serum, plasma, urine, tissues, expired breath condensate, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and lipid-rich foods. Some other α, β-unsaturated aldehydes, such as 4-hydroxyhexenal (4-HHE) and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), are formed respectively by peroxidation of ω −3 and ω-6 PUFAs. During lipid peroxidation, small amounts of acrolein can also generate from ω −3 and ω −6 PUFAs. Upon the effects of free radical, ozone, damage on the lung of rat and human, oxidized arachidonic acid (C6), palmitoleic acid (C7) and oleic acid (C9) can be breakdown and form saturated aldehydesn-hexanal (C6), n-heptanal (C7) and n-nonanal (C9) respectively.
Colorimetric method is widely been used for the determination of aldehydes. However, this method has long been criticized because aldehydes’ reaction with 2-thiobarbituric acid is nonspecific. Other analytical methods such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and liquid chromatography (LC) coupled with nonspecific detectors are developed for the analysis of aldehydes. These techniques are rather sensitive and reliable.
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