• antioxidants;
  • ebselen;
  • glutathione;
  • peptides;
  • selenium


A series of di- and tripeptide-based ebselen analogues has been synthesized. The compounds were characterized by 1H, 13C, and 77Se NMR spectroscopy and mass spectral techniques. The glutathione peroxidase (GPx)-like antioxidant activity has been studied by using H2O2, tert-butyl hydroperoxide (tBuOOH), and cumene hydroperoxide (Cum-OOH) as substrates, and glutathione (GSH) as a cosubstrate. Although all the peptide-based compounds have a selenazole ring similar to that of ebselen, the GPx activity of these compounds highly depends on the nature of the peptide moiety attached to the nitrogen atom of the selenazole ring. It was observed that the introduction of a phenylalanine (Phe) amino acid residue in the N-terminal reduces the activity in all three peroxide systems. On the other hand, the introduction of aliphatic amino acid residues such as valine (Val) significantly enhances the GPx activity of the ebselen analogues. The difference in the catalytic activity of dipeptide-based ebselen derivatives can be ascribed mainly to the change in the reactivity of these compounds toward GSH and peroxide. Although the presence of the Val-Ala-CO2Me moiety facilitates the formation of a catalytically active selenol species, the reaction of ebselen analogues that has a Phe-Ile-CO2Me residue with GSH does not generate the corresponding selenol. To understand the antioxidant activity of the peptide-based ebselen analogues in the absence of GSH, these compounds were studied for their ability to inhibit peroxynitrite (PN)-mediated nitration of bovine serum albumin (BSA) and oxidation of dihydrorhodamine 123. In contrast to the GPx activity, the PN-scavenging activity of the Phe-based peptide analogues was found to be comparable to that of the Val-based compounds. However, the introduction of an additional Phe residue to the ebselen analogue that had a Val-Ala dipeptide significantly reduced the potency of the parent compound in PN-mediated nitration.