The overall objective of the project is to provide a fundamental mechanistic basis for the rational design of therapeutic measures to prevent or ameliorate the pathological consequences of lipid oxidation, for example, by blocking the formation of certain toxic products that damage the retina resulting in age-related macular degeneration. The immediate goal is to understand oxidative fragmentation reactions of polyunsaturated fatty acyl derivatives that generate a complex mixture of oxidatively truncated phospholipids and aliphatic lipid fragments. These fragmentation products exhibit diverse and often pathological biological activities. Of particular interest is the production of mutagenic epoxyalkenals and cytotoxic hydroxyalkenals. Knowledge of the chemistry of the reactive intermediates involved in their generation is important for understanding how environmental or genetic factors can promote their formation. For example, all of the intermediates that we have identified require catalytically active metal ions to undergo fragmentation under biological conditions. One type of intermediate that we have yet to study is believed to spontaneously fragment, without the need for catalysis. However, such intermediates have not been thoroughly characterized. We will prepare pure well characterized samples by chemical synthesis. If we confirm our hypothesis that metal ion catalysis is also required for such intermediates, then one therapeutic strategy would be to remove or detoxify such metal ions. Knowledge of the further transformations of the primary fragmentation products that occur under biological conditions, including oxidation, deacylation, and protein adduction is important because these processes produce biologically active secondary products. For example, we have shown that the protein adducts of hydroxyalkenal phospholipids derived from docosahexaenoic acid initiate macular degeneration and also promote the pathological sprouting of capillaries into the retina. The project focuses on studying key intermediates that are not stable under the oxidative fragmentation reaction conditions. Three basic questions are being addressed: (1) are the putative intermediates actually involved, and if so (2) what products are generated by their decomposition and (3) by what mechanism(s) do they fragment? In some cases, they will be trapped as stable derivatives to confirm their involvement. To provide ample quantities of some reactive intermediates, unambiguous total syntheses are designed and executed. The authentic samples are being used as standards for establishing methods for detecting and quantifying levels of the intermediates in oxidation reaction product mixtures. Their generation and conversion into toxic or innocuous end products is being investigated. We are determining the influences of (1) environments such as those found in different organelles or associated with pathological conditions, (2) levels of cofactors, or (3) oxidation initiating systems and inhibitors, on the production of the reactive intermediates and on the relative importance of various pathways for their subsequent transformations.

Public Health Relevance

Phospholipids, major building blocks human tissue, are attacked and broken apart by oxygen producing fragments that can be toxic. For example, some of these fragments modify proteins in the retina causing the immune system to attack and destroy the retina. To provide a rational basis for the design of therapeutic strategies, this project will determine exactly how such oxidative fragmentation of phospholipids occurs, what the pieces are, and what are some of the chemical reactions involved in their toxicity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Synthetic and Biological Chemistry A Study Section (SBCA)
Program Officer
Shen, Grace L
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Case Western Reserve University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Harris, Stephanie R; Zhang, Guo-Fang; Sadhukhan, Sushabhan et al. (2013) Metabolomics and mass isotopomer analysis as a strategy for pathway discovery: pyrrolyl and cyclopentenyl derivatives of the pro-drug of abuse, levulinate. Chem Res Toxicol 26:213-20
Panigrahi, Soumya; Ma, Yi; Hong, Li et al. (2013) Engagement of platelet toll-like receptor 9 by novel endogenous ligands promotes platelet hyperreactivity and thrombosis. Circ Res 112:103-12
Doyle, Sarah L; Campbell, Matthew; Ozaki, Ema et al. (2012) NLRP3 has a protective role in age-related macular degeneration through the induction of IL-18 by drusen components. Nat Med 18:791-8
Gu, Xiaodong; Salomon, Robert G (2012) Fragmentation of a linoleate-derived ýý-hydroperoxy-ýý,ýý-unsaturated epoxide to ýý-hydroxy- and ýý-oxo-alkenals involves a unique pseudo-symmetrical diepoxycarbinyl radical. Free Radic Biol Med 52:601-6
Gu, Xiaodong; Zhang, Wujuan; Salomon, Robert G (2012) Fragmentation of ýý-hydroxy hydroperoxides. J Org Chem 77:1554-9
Gu, Xiaodong; Zhang, Wujuan; Choi, Jaewoo et al. (2011) An (1)O2 route to ýý-hydroxyalkenal phospholipids by vitamin E-induced fragmentation of hydroperoxydiene-derived endoperoxides. Chem Res Toxicol 24:1080-93
Choi, Jaewoo; Laird, James M; Salomon, Robert G (2011) An efficient synthesis of ýý-hydroxy-ýý,ýý-unsaturated aldehydic esters of 2-lysophosphatidylcholine. Bioorg Med Chem 19:580-7
Salomon, Robert G; Gu, Xiaodong (2011) Critical insights into cardiovascular disease from basic research on the oxidation of phospholipids: the ?-hydroxyalkenal phospholipid hypothesis. Chem Res Toxicol 24:1791-802
Choi, Jaewoo; Zhang, Wujuan; Gu, Xiaodong et al. (2011) Lysophosphatidylcholine is generated by spontaneous deacylation of oxidized phospholipids. Chem Res Toxicol 24:111-8
Salomon, Robert G; Hong, Li; Hollyfield, Joe G (2011) Discovery of carboxyethylpyrroles (CEPs): critical insights into AMD, autism, cancer, and wound healing from basic research on the chemistry of oxidized phospholipids. Chem Res Toxicol 24:1803-16

Showing the most recent 10 out of 16 publications