Neurotoxicity of reactive aldehydes: The concept of "aldehyde load" as demonstrated by neuroprotection with hydroxylamines

Paul L. Wood*, M. Amin Khan, Sarah R. Kulow, Siddique A. Mahmood, Joseph R. Moskal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The concept of "oxidative stress" has become a mainstay in the field of neurodegeneration but has failed to differentiate critical events from epiphenomena and sequalae. Furthermore, the translation of current concepts of neurodegenerative mechanisms into effective therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases has been meager and disappointing. A corollary of current concepts of "oxidative stress" is that of "aldehyde load". This relates to the production of reactive aldehydes that covalently modify proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates and activate apoptotic pathways. However, reactive aldehydes can also be generated by mechanisms other than "oxidative stress". We therefore hypothesized that agents that can chemically neutralize reactive aldehydes should demonstrate superior neuroprotective actions to those of free radical scavengers. To this end, we evaluated hydroxylamines as aldehyde-trapping agents in an in vitro model of neurodegeneration induced by the reactive aldehyde, 3-aminopropanal (3-AP), a product of polyamine oxidase metabolism of spermine and spermidine. In this model, the hydroxylamines N-benzylhydroxylamine, cyclohexylhydroxylamine and t-butylhydroxylamine were shown to protect, in a concentration-dependent manner, against 3-AP neurotoxicity. Additionally, a therapeutic window of 3 h was demonstrated for delayed administration of the hydroxylamines. In contrast, the free radical scavengers TEMPO and TEMPONE and the anti-oxidant ascorbic acid were ineffective in this model. Extending these tissue culture findings in vivo, we examined the actions of N-benzylhydroxylamine in the trimethyltin (TMT) rat model of hippocampal CA3 neurodegeneration. This model involves augmented polyamine metabolism resulting in the generation of reactive aldehydes that compromise mitochondrial integrity. In the rat TMT model, NBHA (50 mg/kg, sc, daily) provided 100% protection against neurodegeneration, as reflected by measurements of KCl-evoked glutamate release from hippocampal brain slices and septal high affinity glutamate uptake. In contrast, ascorbic acid (100 mg/kg, sc, daily) failed to protect CA3 neurons from TMT toxicity. In summary, our data support further evaluation of the concept of "aldehyde load" in neurodegeneration and the potential clinical investigation of agents that are effective traps for reactive aldehydes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-199
Number of pages10
JournalBrain research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • 3-Aminopropanal
  • Aldehyde load
  • Hydroxylamine
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Polyamines
  • Trimethyltin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurotoxicity of reactive aldehydes: The concept of "aldehyde load" as demonstrated by neuroprotection with hydroxylamines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this