Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

David Becker

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Stanislaw Wnuk

Third Advisor's Name

Yong Cai

Fourth Advisor's Name

Richard Bone

Fifth Advisor's Name

Cyril Parkanyi


azulenylsilane nitrones, superoxide detection, diagnostic tools

Date of Defense



The superoxide radical is considered to play important roles in physiological processes as well as in the genesis of diverse cytotoxic conditions such as cancer, various cardiovascular disorders and neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The detection and quantification of superoxide within cells is of critical importance to understand biological roles of superoxide and to develop preventive strategies against free radical-mediated diseases. Cyclic nitrone spin traps such as DMPO, EMPO, DEPMPO, BMPO and their derivatives have been widely used in conjunction with ESR spectroscopy to detect cellular superoxide with some success. However, the formation of unstable superoxide adducts from the reaction of cyclic nitrones with superoxide is a stumbling block in detecting superoxide by using electron spin resonance (ESR). A chemiluminescent probe, lucigenin, and fluorogenic probes, hydroethidium and MitoSox, are the other frequently used methods in detecting superoxide. However, luceginen undergoes redox-cycling producing superoxide by itself, and hydroethidium and MitoSox react with other oxidants apart from superoxide forming red fluorescent products contributing to artefacts in these assays. Hence, both methods were deemed to be inappropriate for superoxide detection.

In this study, an effective approach, a selective mechanism-based colorimetric detection of superoxide anion has been developed by using silylated azulenyl nitrones spin traps. Since a nitrone moiety and an adjacent silyl group react readily with radicals and oxygen anions respectively, such nitrones can trap superoxide efficiently because superoxide is both a radical and an oxygen anion. Moreover, the synthesized nitrone is designed to be triggered solely by superoxide and not by other commonly observed oxygen radicals such as hydroxyl radical, alkoxyl radicals and peroxyl radical. In vitro studies have shown that these synthesized silylated azylenyl nitrones and the mitochondrial-targeted guanylhydrazone analog can trap superoxide efficiently yielding UV-vis identifiable and even potentially fluorescence-detectable orange products. Therefore, the chromotropic detection of superoxide using these nitrones can be a promising method in contrast to other available methods.





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