Send to

Choose Destination
Med Hypotheses. 1999 Jun;52(6):577-80.

Sudden infant death syndrome: oxidative stress.


In studies of oxidative stress in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) there were two major findings: (1) During normal post-natal development, there was a gradual decline in the number of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx) immunoreactive neurons in the hippocampus and parahippocampus gyrus in the brain; (2) The total number of immunoreactive neurons was elevated in SIDS victims compared to age-matched controls in infants 6 months of age and under (1). SOD and neuronal aging and degeneration in the hippocampus and neocortex were features of SIDS, Alzheimer's disease and Down's syndrome. In the SIDS study of infants from 3-6 months of age, the elevation of SOD in SIDS victims was significant, whereas no significant elevation of GSHPx was detected. An imbalance between SOD and GSHPx was said to be crucial in the prevention of toxicity of free radicals (1). Zinc-deficient cells cannot up-regulate gene expression of the scavenger enzymes SOD and GSHPx in cells exposed to high levels of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide (2). GSHPx coupled to reduced nicotine adenine diphosphate (NADPH) regenerating systems via glutathione reductase is virtually able to guarantee an effective protection of biological structures against oxidative attack (22). When the capacity of the cell to regenerate GSH is exceeded - primarily due to an insufficient supply of NADPH-oxidised glutathione (GSSG) is released from the cell and protein synthesis turns off (20). We hypothesize that the increased incidence of aging and neuronal death and increased incidence of SOD and GSHPx reactive neurons in early post-natal development indicates an increased up-regulation of gene expression of scavenger enzymes during high exposure to oxidative stress after birth. GSH-dependent peroxide metabolism is linked to the pentose phosphate shunt via NADPH-dependent glutathione reductase (GR). GSHPx is a selenium containing enzyme which together with catalase (CAT) SOD and vitamin E protects cells in the free radical chain. Zinc upregulates gene expression of these antioxidants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center