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J Endocrinol. 2005 Oct;187(1):37-44.

Oxidative and nitrosative stress in brain mitochondria of diabetic rats.

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Department of Experimental Medicine and Oncology, Section of General Pathology, Corso Raffaello 30, University of Turin, 10125 Turin, Italy.


Diabetic encephalopathy, characterized by impaired cognitive functions and neurochemical and structural abnormalities, may involve direct neuronal damage caused by intracellular glucose. The study assesses the direct effect of chronic hyperglycemia on the function of brain mitochondria, the major site of reactive species production, in diabetic streptozotocin (STZ) rats. Oxidative stress plays a central role in diabetic tissue damage. Alongside enhanced reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, both nitric oxide (NO) levels and mitochondrial nitric oxide synthase expression were found to be increased in mitochondria, whereas glutathione (GSH) peroxidase activity and manganese superoxide dismutase protein content were reduced. GSH was reduced and GSH disulfide (GSSG) was increased in STZ rats. Oxidative and nitrosative stress, by reducing the activity of complexes III, IV and V of the respiratory chain and decreasing ATP levels, might contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction. In summary, this study offers fresh evidence that, besides the vascular-dependent mechanisms of brain dysfunction, oxidative and nitrosative stress, by damaging brain mitochondria, may cause direct injury of neuronal cells.

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