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J Neurochem. 1999 Jun;72(6):2523-30.

The glutathione system of peroxide detoxification is less efficient in neurons than in astroglial cells.

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Physiologisch-chemisches Institut der Universität, Tübingen, Germany.


The ability of neurons to detoxify exogenously applied peroxides was analyzed using neuron-rich primary cultures derived from embryonic rat brain. Incubation of neurons with H2O2 at an initial concentration of 100 microM (300 nmol/3 ml) led to a decrease in the concentration of the peroxide, which depended strongly on the seeding density of the neurons. When 3 x 10(6) viable cells were seeded per dish, the half-time for the clearance by neurons of H2O2 from the incubation buffer was 15.1 min. Immediately after application of 100 microM H2O2 to neurons, glutathione was quickly oxidized. After incubation for 2.5 min, GSSG accounted for 48% of the total glutathione. Subsequent removal of H2O2 caused an almost complete regeneration of the original ratio of GSH to GSSG within 2.5 min. Compared with confluent astroglial cultures, neuron-rich cultures cleared H2O2 more slowly from the incubation buffer. However, if the differences in protein content were taken into consideration, the ability of the cells to dispose of H2O2 was identical in the two culture types. The clearance rate by neurons for H2O2 was strongly reduced in the presence of the catalase inhibitor 3-aminotriazol, a situation contrasting with that in astroglial cultures. This indicates that for the rapid clearance of H2O2 by neurons, both glutathione peroxidase and catalase are essential and that the glutathione system cannot functionally compensate for the loss of the catalase reaction. In addition, the protein-normalized ability of neuronal cultures to detoxify exogenous cumene hydroperoxide, an alkyl hydroperoxide that is reduced exclusively via the glutathione system, was lower than that of astroglial cells by a factor of 3. These results demonstrate that the glutathione system of peroxide detoxification in neurons is less efficient than that of astroglial cells.

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