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Dev Neurosci. 1996;18(5-6):391-6.

Glutathione protects astrocytes from peroxynitrite-mediated mitochondrial damage: implications for neuronal/astrocytic trafficking and neurodegeneration.

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Department of Neurochemistry, Institute of Neurology, London, UK.


In this study we have examined the susceptibility of the mitochondrial respiratory chain of astrocytes and astrocytes depleted of glutathione to peroxynitrite exposure. Astrocytes, as reported previously by us, appeared resistant to the actions of peroxynitrite. In contrast, depletion (-94%) of astrocytic glutathione rendered the cells susceptible with mitochondrial complexes I and II/III being decreased in activity by 80 and 64%, respectively, after peroxynitrite exposure. Furthermore, cell death, as judged by lactate dehydrogenase release, was significantly increased (+81%) in the glutathione-depleted astrocytes exposed to peroxynitrite. Glutathione depletion alone had no effect on any of the measured parameters. It is concluded that glutathione is an important intracellular defence against peroxynitrite and that when glutathione levels are compromised the mitochondrial respiratory chain is a vulnerable target and cell death ensues. In view of the relative paucity of neuronal glutathione, it is possible that astrocyte-derived peroxynitrite may, in certain pathological conditions, be released and diffuse into neighboring neurones where mitochondrial damage may occur.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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