Antioxidants partially restore glutamate transport defect in Leber hereditary optic neuropathy cybrids

Gessica Sala, Federica Trombin, Simone Beretta, Lucio Tremolizzo, Paola Presutto, Monica Montopoli, Marianna Fantin, Andrea Martinuzzi, Valerio Carelli, Carlo Ferrarese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is a mitochondrial disease characterized by visual loss resulting from retinal ganglion cell degeneration. Despite the important role of respiratory chain deficiency and oxidative stress induced by mtDNA point mutations affecting complex I, excitotoxic injury has been postulated as a concurrent pathogenic factor. We used transmitochondrial cybrid cell lines constructed using enucleated fibroblasts from three LHON probands carrying the most severe 3460/ND1 mutation and three controls as mitochondria donors, and the osteosarcoma-derived mtDNA-less cells, to study the possible efficacy of two selected antioxidant compounds in preventing glutamate uptake reduction previously observed in LHON cybrids. We demonstrated that two antioxidants, Trolox and decylubiquinone, partially restore glutamate transport impairment occurring in LHON cybrids. Rotenone, a classic complex I inhibitor, did not worsen the glutamate uptake defect present in LHON cybrids under basal conditions but significantly reduced glutamate transport in control cybrids. Furthermore, we observed that LHON cybrids showed an increased protein carbonylation under basal conditions, not further affected by rotenone and partially counteracted by antioxidants. Our findings strengthen the hypothesis that the complex I defect associated with LHON causes free radical overproduction, which is responsible for glutamate transport inhibition. We suggest that selected antioxidants may be clinically tested in LHON patients and relatives to restore glutamate uptake defect caused by LHON-associated free radical overproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3331-3337
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Cybrids
  • Decylubiquinone
  • Glutamate transport
  • LHON
  • Trolox

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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