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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1999 Oct 1;370(1):22-33.

Purine catabolism: links to mitochondrial respiration and antioxidant defenses?

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Dementia Research Service, Burke Medical Research Institute, White Plains, New York, 10605, USA.


Type I diabetes in rodents is associated with a spectrum of liver mitochondrial abnormalities ranging from evidence of oxidative stress and altered antioxidant defenses to frank defects in respiration rates and respiratory control ratios. To better address the myriad changes in redox metabolism in these mitochondria, we have applied new chromatographic techniques that enable simultaneous analysis of multiple components of pathways of interest (e.g., purine catabolites and oxidation by-products). We report here a portion of these results, which, in conjunction with other reported data, suggest that purine catabolism may contribute to mitochondrial antioxidant defenses by producing the antioxidant urate. In liver mitochondria from diabetic rats, increases in uric acid (threefold) and its direct precursor xanthine (sixfold) were observed in moderate diabetes, but levels fell essentially to normal in severe disease. Failure to maintain elevated xanthine and uric acid occurred contemporaneously with progressive mitochondrial dysfunction. Regression analysis revealed altered precursor-product relationships between xanthine, its precursors, and uric acid. An independent set of studies in isolated rat liver mitochondria showed that mitochondrial respiration was associated with essentially uniform decreases (approximately 30%) in all purine catabolites measured (urate, xanthine, hypoxanthine, guanine, guanosine, and xanthosine). That result suggests the potential for steady production of urate. Taken together, the two studies raise the possibility that purine catabolism may be a previously unappreciated component of the homeostatic response of mitochondria to oxidant stress and may play a critical role in slowing progressive mitochondrial dysfunction in certain disease states.

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