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Brain Res. 1998 Apr 27;791(1-2):209-14.

Glucocorticoids may alter antioxidant enzyme capacity in the brain: baseline studies.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, have been shown to increase the vulnerability of hippocampal neurons to metabolic insults, potentially by altering the neuronal defense capacity against oxidative damage. These experiments assessed the effect of long term in vivo GC supplementation on basal activity of the antioxidant enzymes copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn SOD), manganese superoxide dismutase (Mn SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase (GSPx). Kinetic enzyme studies were done using brain tissue from the hippocampus, cortex, cerebellum, and also from liver as a peripheral control. Cu/Zn SOD activity was significantly lower in all brain regions of GC-treated rats, but higher in the liver. Mn SOD activity was unaffected by treatment. Catalase in the brain appeared largely unaffected by GC treatment, although liver catalase was significantly decreased. GSPx activity was significantly decreased by GCs at high peroxide levels in all tissues. These results indicate that the presence of GCs may lower the antioxidant capacity of tissues in a region-specific manner, and that the deficit may not appear until the tissue is challenged with supranormal levels of oxidative products (as seen with GSPx).

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