Background and Purpose Studies showing efficacy with free radical scavengers have been conflicting, and when protection was demonstrated it was attributed to action at the level of the vascular endothelium. The purpose of this study was to test the hypotheses that neuronal free radical formation plays a role in the ischemic cascade and occurs intracellularly and that free radical scavengers, if taken up intracellularly, will protect against hypoxic damage. Methods A tissue culture model of hypoxia followed by restoration of oxygen was employed, using both superior cervical ganglia and hippocampal neurons. Cells were exposed to an anoxic atmosphere of 95% N2 and 5% CO2 and examined 2 to 24 hours later after restoration of oxygen. Determination of survival was measured by trypan blue exclusion. Nitroblue tetrazolium stain was used to assess free radical formation. Results Pretreatment with free Superoxide dismutase did not decrease cell death after hypoxia as measured by trypan blue exclusion. However, when Superoxide dismutase was taken up intracellularly under depolarizing conditions (55 mmol/L KC1 in the medium), cell death was decreased significantly compared with hypoxic controls (28.7±4.34 versus 40.3±4.33; P<.03). During hypoxia neurons reduced nitroblue tetrazolium to form the blue precipitate formazan, and the color change was blocked in neurons pretreated with superoxide dismutase in depolarizing medium. Similar findings occurred in both superior cervical ganglia and hippocampal neurons. Conclusions These findings provide evidence to support the role of neuronal free radical formation in cell death secondary to hypoxia. In addition, free radical scavengers, if taken up intracellularly, may partially ameliorate their deleterious effect.
- Free radicals
- Neuronal death
- Superoxide dismutase
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Advanced and Specialized Nursing