Effects of protein malnutrition on oxidative status in rat brain

Ana M. Feoli, Ionara R. Siqueira*, Lúcia Almeida, Ana C. Tramontina, Cláudia Vanzella, Sabrina Sbaraini, Ingrid D. Schweigert, Carlos A. Netto, Marcos L S Perry, Carlos A. Gonçalves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study evaluated the effects of protein malnutrition on oxidative status in rat brain areas. Methods: We investigated various parameters of oxidative status, free radical content (dichlorofluorescein formation), indexes of damage to lipid (thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances assay), and protein damage (tryptophan and tyrosine content) in addition to total antioxidant reactivity levels and antioxidant enzyme activities of superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase in different cerebral regions (cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum) from rats subjected to prenatal and postnatal protein malnutrition (control 25% casein and protein malnutrition 7% casein). Results: Protein malnutrition altered various parameters of oxidative stress, especially damage to macromolecules. Free radical content was unchanged by protein malnutrition. There was an increase in levels of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances, the index of lipid peroxidation, in the cerebellum and cerebral cortex (P < 0.05) from protein-malnourished rats. Moreover, significant decreases in tryptophan and tyrosine in all tested brain structures (P < 0.05) were observed. Catalase activity was significantly decreased in the cerebellum (P < 0.05). In addition, a significant decrease in total antioxidant reactivity levels (P < 0.05) was observed in the cerebral cortex from protein-malnourished rats. Conclusions: The present data indicated that protein malnutrition increased oxidative damage to lipids and proteins from the studied brain areas. These results may be an indication of an important mechanism for changes in brain development that are caused by protein malnutrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-165
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Antioxidant capacity
  • Brain
  • Free radical
  • Oxidative damage
  • Protein malnutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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