Hypothiocyanous acid - benign or deadly?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Hypothiocyanous acid (HOSCN) is produced in biological systems by the peroxidase-catalyzed reaction of thiocyanate (SCN(-)) with H(2)O(2). This oxidant plays an important role in the human immune system, owing to its potent bacteriostatic properties. Significant amounts of HOSCN are also formed by immune cells under inflammatory conditions, yet the reactivity of this oxidant with host tissue is poorly characterized. Traditionally, HOSCN has been viewed as a mild oxidant, which is innocuous to mammalian cells. Indeed, recent studies show that the presence of SCN(-) in airways has a protective function, by preventing the formation of other, more damaging, inflammatory oxidants. However, there is an increasing body of evidence that challenges this dogma, showing that the selectivity of HOSCN for specific thiol-containing cellular targets results in the initiation of significant cellular damage. This propensity to induce cellular dysfunction is gaining considerable interest, particularly in the cardiovascular field, as smokers have elevated plasma SCN(-), the precursor for HOSCN. This review will outline the beneficial and detrimental aspects of HOSCN formation in biological systems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Research in Toxicology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)263-73
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Animals, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cystic Fibrosis, Humans, Lung, Mouth, Thiocyanates, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't, Review

ID: 174497372