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Eur J Pediatr Surg. 1995 Dec;5 Suppl 1:8-11.

Comparison of erythrocyte antioxidant enzyme activities and embryologic level of neural tube defects.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, USA.


Increased exposure to oxidant-derived free radicals or inadequate systems for antioxidant defense could alter cellular response at critical points in development. We measured 5 antioxidant enzymes, glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), glutathione reductase, glutathione-S-transferase, catalase and superoxide dismutase in erythrocytes and their plasma cofactor trace elements (Se, Zn, Cu) in 37 children with myelomeningocele and in 37 age-matched controls. We placed the patients into 3 groups according to motor level of the lesion at birth. We found significantly lower GSH-Px activities (p = 0.007) in children with myelomeningocele. For paired comparisons among the 3 patient groups and controls, there were significant differences (p < 0.05) between controls and both high (thoracic) and raid (lumbar) level embryologic lesions. The finding of antioxidant enzyme variations in our patients with myelomeningocele may indicate a role for abnormal oxidative metabolism in the development of this defect. The contribution of oxidative stress to human birth defects warrants investigation. We discuss potential relationships between oxidative stress and energy metabolism during primary neurulation.

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