Phagocytes produce 5-chlorouracil and 5-bromouracil, two mutagenic products of myeloperoxidase, in human inflammatory tissue

Jeffrey P. Henderson, Jaeman Byun, Junko Takeshita, Jay W. Heinecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Oxidative damage to DNA has been implicated in carcinogenesis during chronic inflammation. Epidemiological and biochemical studies suggest that one potential mechanism involves myeloperoxidase, a hemeprotein secreted by human phagocytes. In this study, we demonstrate that human neutrophils use myeloperoxidase to oxidize uracil to 5-chlorouracil in vitro. Uracil chlorination by myeloperoxidase or reagent HOCl exhibited an unusual pH dependence, being minimal at pH ∼5, but increasing markedly under either acidic or mildly basic conditions. This bimodal curve suggests that myeloperoxidase initially produces HOCl, which subsequently chlorinates uracil by acid- or base-catalyzed reactions. Human neutrophils use myeloperoxidase and H2O2 to chlorinate uracil, suggesting that nucleobase halogenation reactions may be physiologically relevant. Using a sensitive and specific mass spectrometric method, we detected two products of myeloperoxidase, 5-chlorouracil and 5-bromouracil, in neutrophil-rich human inflammatory tissue. Myeloperoxidase is the most likely source of 5-chlorouracil in vivo because halogenated uracil is a specific product of the myeloperoxidase system in vitro. In contrast, previous studies have demonstrated that 5-bromouracil could be generated by either eosinophil peroxidase or myeloperoxidase, which preferentially brominates uracil at plasma concentrations of halide and under moderately acidic conditions. These observations indicate that the myeloperoxidase system promotes nucleobase halogenation in vivo. Because 5-chlorouracil and 5-bromouracil can be incorporated into nuclear DNA, and these thymine analogs are well known mutagens, our observations raise the possibility that halogenation reactions initiated by phagocytes provide one pathway for mutagenesis and cytotoxicity at sites of inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23522-23528
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jul 27 2003


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