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J Neurosci Res. 2005 Sep 1;81(5):687-95.

Elevated protein carbonylation in the brain white matter and gray matter of patients with multiple sclerosis.

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Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of New Mexico-Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-5218, USA.


Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis (MS). Increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) derived from infiltrating macrophages and microglial cells have been shown to reduce the levels of endogenous antioxidants and to cause the oxidation of various substrates within the MS plaque. To determine whether oxidative damage takes place beyond visible MS plaques, the occurrence of total carbonyls (TCOs) and protein carbonyls (PCOs) in the normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) and gray matter (NAGM) of eight MS brains was assessed and compared with those of four control brains. The data show that most (7/8) of the MS-WM samples contain increased amounts of PCOs as determined by reaction with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine and Western blot analysis. These samples also have high levels of glial fibrilary acidic protein (GFAP), suggesting that oxidative damage is related to the presence of small lesions. In contrast, we detected no evidence of protein thiolation (glutathionylation and cysteinylation) in the diseased tissue. To our surprise, MS-NAGM specimens with high GFAP content also showed three times the concentration of TCOs and PCOs as the controls. The increase in PCOs is likely to be a consequence of reduced levels of antioxidants, in that the concentration of nonprotein thiols in both MS-WM and -GM decreased by 30%. Overall, our data support the current view that both NAWM and -GM from MS brains contain considerable biochemical alterations. The involvement of GM in MS was also supported by the decrease in the levels of neurofilament light protein in all the specimens analyzed. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating the presence of increased protein carbonylation in post-mortem WM and GM tissue of MS patients.

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