OxyFile #230

Brain lipid peroxidation and hydroxy radical attack following 
the intravenous infusion of hydrogen peroxide in an infant.

Author:  Lubec B; Hayn M; Denk W; Bauer G

Source:  Free Radic Biol Med 1996; 21(2):219-23


Death following peroxide administration in humans has been 
reported repeatedly. Hydrogen peroxide, an odorless and 
clear solution is considered a harmless liquid and is in 
use for cleaning of superficial wounds. We describe the 
fatal infusion of this compound by mistake leading to oxygen 
embolism and, subsequently, to death as a warning for the 
clinician. Hydrogen peroxide is suggested a major substrate 
for the in vivo production of the potent oxidizing free 
radical species "hydroxy radical." No direct evidence for 
its in vivo production from hydrogen peroxide has been 
described so far. Using the principle of o-tyrosine determination 
we studied the formation of the hydroxy radical in the 
postmortem brain of the infant given intravenous hydrogen 
peroxide in comparison to postmortem brain samples from 
five infants. o-Tyrosine is formed by hydroxy radical attack 
on free and bound phenylalanine and was increased twofold 
in the brain of the infant given hydrogen peroxide. The 
significant increase of brain malondialdehyde, a major 
product and indicator of lipid peroxidation, paralleled 
the findings of hydroxy radical attack, suggesting that 
this reactive species has been leading to elevated lipid 
peroxidation. We propose that the generation of lipid peroxidation 
and the hydroxy radical from hydrogen peroxide can take 
place in humans.