Effect of ionic strength on the binding of ascorbate to albumin

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A fluorophore-nitroxide free radical dual-functional probe (FN) was utilized to study the kinetics of ascorbate (AH-) binding to Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA). Since the free radical fragment in the FN probe intramolecularly quenches fluorescence, ascorbate reduction of the nitroxide function is accompanied by a concomitant fluorescence intensity increase from the fluorophore. Thus, both fluorescence and the EPR techniques could be utilized to measure the reaction rate. In the presence of BSA protein, the observed rate of the overall process is the sum of that from at least two reactions: the reaction between free ascorbate and free probe, and the reaction between bound ascorbate and bound probe. Our findings show that the observed rate is strongly dependent on the ionic strength of the medium. A corollary of this observation is the indication of a purely electrostatic interaction between ascorbate and the BSA protein. This conclusion was further corroborated by 1H NMR measurement of the transverse relaxation time, T2, of ascorbate protons in BSA solutions. Ascorbate ion was released from the ascorbate/BSA ensemble in the presence of increasing concentrations of NaCl. Binding constants of AH- to BSA were calculated at different ionic strengths at pH 7.4. Furthermore, an increase in ionic strength did not affect the ability of albumin to protect ascorbate against autoxidation. This suggests that the protein's protective antioxidant effect may be attributed to BSA binding of trace quantities of transition-metal cations (rather than ascorbate binding to BSA). This conclusion is supported by ascorbate UV-absorption measurements in the presence of albumin and Cu2+ ions as a function of ionic strength.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2002


  • Ascorbate autoxidation
  • Bovine serum albumin
  • Fluorophore-nitroxide
  • Ionic strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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