Background During long-term intravenous infusions, sulfite in sulfite-containing propofol emulsions can cause the peroxidation of lipid and dimerization of propofol. This study evaluated the role of lipid in sulfite-dependent propofol dimerization by determining the effects of individual fatty acids in soybean oil emulsion and peroxidized lipids in a model system. Methods Individual fatty acids, stearic (18:0), oleic (18:1), linoleic (18:2), linolenic (18:3), and arachidonic (20:4), were added to sulfite-containing propofol emulsion and incubated for 90 min at 37 degrees C. Model systems containing soybean oil (100 microl), water (900 microl), propofol (10 mg/ml), and sulfite (0.25 mg/ml) composed of oils with different peroxide values were allowed to react for 60 min at room temperature. After the reactions, propofol dimer and propofol dimer quinone were analyzed by reversed-phase high-pressure liquid chromatography. Results Propofol did not dimerize when added to aqueous sulfite unless soybean oil was also included. The addition of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic, linolenic, arachidonic) to sulfite-containing propofol emulsion resulted in large increases of propofol dimerization compared with stearic or oleic acid. Using biphasic mixtures of soybean oil and aqueous sulfite, propofol dimerization increased with increasing peroxide content of the oil. In propofol emulsion, lipoxidase and ferrous iron in the absence of sulfite also caused the dimerization of propofol. Conclusions These results show that lipid can play a significant role in sulfite-dependent propofol dimerization. The relation of dimerization to polyunsaturated fatty acid and soybean oil peroxide content suggests that sulfite reacts with unsaturated lipid or peroxide-modified lipid to facilitate propofol dimerization.
Background Sodium metabisulfite is added to a commercial propofol emulsion as an antimicrobial agent. The sulfite ion (SO3(-2)) is capable of undergoing a number of reactions, including autooxidation and the promotion of lipid peroxidation. This study evaluated sulfite reactivity in propofol emulsions by determining thiobarbituric acid reacting substances (TBARS), sulfite depletion, and emulsion pH in emulsions containing sulfite or EDTA. Methods Commercial EDTA and sulfite propofol emulsions were compared, and 10% soybean oil emulsion containing various additives were evaluated for TBARS, sulfite, and pH. TBARS were analyzed with a modified thiobarbituric acid method. Sulfite was analyzed by the reaction of sulfite with 5,5'-dithiobis(2-nitrobenzoic acid). pH was measured by glass electrode methodology. Results Thiobarbituric acid reacting substances were detectable in commercial sulfite propofol emulsions in concentrations ranging from 0.02 to 0.22 microg/ml based on malondialdehyde. No TBARS were detected in EDTA propofol emulsions. Incubation (37 degrees C, up to 6 h) of sulfite propofol emulsions in air resulted in further increases in TBARS (35-160%). No increases occurred in incubated EDTA propofol emulsions. Metabisulfite (0.25 mg/ml) alone added to 10% soybean oil resulted in large increases in TBARS that were inhibited in part by propofol (10 mg/ml) and completely by ascorbic acid (0.05 mg/ml). Soybean oil emulsion pH declined rapidly on the addition of metabisulfite (0.25 mg/ml). The addition of propofol (10 mg/ml) partially inhibited the decline in pH and ascorbic acid (0.05 mg/ml) completely inhibited it. Conclusion These results show that sulfite supports the peroxidation of lipids in soybean oil emulsions and propofol functions to partially inhibit these processes.