Localization of a glutathione-dependent dehydroascorbate reductase within the central nervous system of the rat

F. Fornai, M. Saviozzi, S. Piaggi, M. Gesi, G. U. Corsini, G. Malvaldi, A. F. Casini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we describe for the first time the occurrence, within the central nervous system of the rat, of a dehydroascorbate reductase analogous to the one we recently described in the liver. Dehydroascorbate reductase plays a pivotal role in regenerating ascorbic acid from its oxidation product, dehydroascorbate. In a first set of experiments, we showed that a dehydroascorbate reductase activity is present in brain cytosol; immunoblotting analysis confirmed the presence of an immunoreactive cytosolic protein in selected brain areas. Immunotitration showed that approximately 65% of dehydroascorbate reductase activity of brain cytosol which was recovered in the ammonium sulphate fraction can be attributed to this enzyme. Using immunohistochemistry, we found that a variety of brain areas expresses the enzyme. Immunoreactivity was confined to the gray matter. Amongst the several brain regions, the cerebellum appears to be the most densely stained. The enzyme was also abundant in the hippocampus and the olfactory cortex. The lesion of norepinephrine terminals following systemic administration of DSP-4 markedly decreased immunoreactivity in the cerebellum. Apart from the possible co-localization of the enzyme with norepinephrine, the relative content of dehydroascorbate reductase in different brain regions might be crucial in conditioning regional sensitivity to free radical-induced brain damage. Given the scarcity of protective mechanisms demonstrated in the brain, the discovery of a new enzyme with antioxidant properties might represent a starting-point to increase our knowledge about the antioxidant mechanisms operating in several central nervous system disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937-948
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999


  • Antioxidant
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Dehydroascorbate
  • Dehydroascorbate reductase
  • Glutathione
  • Neuroprotection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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