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J Neurochem. 1985 Feb;44(2):574-9.

Identification of hypoxanthine transport and xanthine oxidase activity in brain capillaries.


Microvessel segments were isolated from rat brain and used for studies of hypoxanthine transport and metabolism. Compared to an homogenate of cerebral cortex, the isolated microvessels were 3.7-fold enriched in xanthine oxidase. Incubation of the isolated microvessels with labeled hypoxanthine resulted in its rapid uptake followed by the slower accumulation of hypoxanthine metabolites including xanthine and uric acid. The intracellular accumulation of these metabolites was inhibited by the xanthine oxidase inhibitor allopurinol. Hypoxanthine transport into isolated capillaries was inhibited by adenine but not by representative pyrimidines or nucleosides. Similar results were obtained when blood to brain transport of hypoxanthine in vivo was measured using the intracarotid bolus injection technique. Thus, hypoxanthine is transported into brain capillaries by a transport system shared with adenine. Once inside the cell, hypoxanthine can be metabolized to xanthine and uric acid by xanthine oxidase. Since this reaction leads to the release of oxygen radicals, it is suggested that brain capillaries may be susceptible to free radical mediated damage. This would be most likely to occur in conditions where the brain hypoxanthine concentration is increased as following ischemia.

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