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Mol Aspects Med. 2003 Aug-Oct;24(4-5):293-303.

4-hydroxynonenal and neurodegenerative diseases.

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Department of Neuropathology, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Clinical Medical, Center Zagreb, Kispaticeva 12, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.


The development of oxidative stress, in which production of highly reactive oxygen species (ROS) overwhelms antioxidant defenses, is a feature of many neurological diseases: ischemic, inflammatory, metabolic and degenerative. Oxidative stress is increasingly implicated in a number of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by abnormal filament accumulation or deposition of abnormal forms of specific proteins in affected neurons, like Alzheimer's disease (AD), Pick's disease, Lewy bodies related diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington disease. Causes of neuronal death in neurodegenerative diseases are multifactorial. In some familiar cases of ALS mutation in the gene for Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) can be identified. In other neurodegenerative diseases ROS have some, usually not clear, role in early pathogenesis or implications on neuronal death in advanced stages of illness. The effects of oxidative stress on "post-mitotic cells", such as neurons may be cumulative, hence, it is often unclear whether oxidative damage is a cause or consequence of neurodegeneration. Peroxidation of cellular membrane lipids, or circulating lipoprotein molecules generates highly reactive aldehydes among which one of most important is 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE). The presence of HNE is increased in brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid of AD patients, and in spinal cord of ALS patients. Immunohistochemical studies show presence of HNE in neurofibrilary tangles and in senile plaques in AD, in the cytoplasm of the residual motor neurons in sporadic ALS, in Lewy bodies in neocortical and brain stem neurons in Parkinson's disease (PD) and in diffuse Lewy bodies disease (DLBD). Thus, increased levels of HNE in neurodegenerative disorders and immunohistochemical distribution of HNE in brain tissue indicate pathophysiological role of oxidative stress in these diseases, and especially HNE in formation of abnormal filament deposites.

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