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Am J Neurodegener Dis. 2012;1(2):122-9. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

Neuroprotection against iron-induced cell death by perineuronal nets - an in vivo analysis of oxidative stress.

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University of Leipzig, Department for Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration, Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Research Jahnallee 59, 04109 Leipzig, Germany.


Perineuronal nets (PNs) are a specialized form of extracellular matrix, surrounding different types of neurons and mainly consist of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans connected to hyaluronan, stabilized by link protein and cross-linked via tenascin-R. Due to their polyanionic character, caused by the highly charged chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycan and hyaluronan components, PNs might be involved in local ion homeostasis. They are able to scavenge and bind redox-active ions and thus reduce the local oxidative potential. We investigated whether netenwrapped neurons are less vulnerable against iron-induced oxidative processes. Oxidative stress is a key factor in the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Iron is believed to contribute to oxidative stress in Alzheimer brains by catalyzing the generation of free radicals. For examining potential neuroprotective effects of PNs, mice were microinjected with 0.2μl of a 20mM solution of FeCl3 into the barrel field while the control group received an equal volume of 0.9% NaCl. Brains were analyzed after time intervals of 24h and 72h. Neuronal degeneration was visualized using Fluoro-Jade B staining. The presence of PNs was assessed by Wisteria floribunda agglutinin histochemistry or aggrecan immunocytochemistry. The analysis showed a significant lower degeneration rate of net-ensheathed neurons in comparison to neurons without PNs. The results suggest a neuroprotective mechanism associated with the presence of PNs against iron-induced cell death.


Perineuronal nets; iron; neuroprotection; oxidative stress


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