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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Sep;55(9):1320-31. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100217. Epub 2011 Aug 8.

Acrolein-mediated injury in nervous system trauma and diseases.

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Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1244, USA.


Acrolein, an α,β-unsaturated aldehyde, is a ubiquitous pollutant that is also produced endogenously through lipid peroxidation. This compound is hundreds of times more reactive than other aldehydes such as 4-hydroxynonenal, is produced at much higher concentrations, and persists in solution for much longer than better known free radicals. It has been implicated in disease states known to involve chronic oxidative stress, particularly spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis. Acrolein may overwhelm the anti-oxidative systems of any cell by depleting glutathione reserves, preventing glutathione regeneration, and inactivating protective enzymes. On the cellular level, acrolein exposure can cause membrane damage, mitochondrial dysfunction, and myelin disruption. Such pathologies can be exacerbated by increased concentrations or duration of exposure, and can occur in normal tissue incubated with injured spinal cord, showing that acrolein can act as a diffusive agent, spreading secondary injury. Several chemical species are capable of binding and inactivating acrolein. Hydralazine in particular can reduce acrolein concentrations and inhibit acrolein-mediated pathologies in vivo. Acrolein scavenging appears to be a novel effective treatment, which is primed for rapid translation to the clinic.

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