Subcellular localization of a glutathione-dependent dehydroascorbate reductase within specific rat brain regions

F. Fornai, S. Piaggi, M. Gesi, M. Saviozzi, P. Lenzi, A. Paparelli, A. F. Casini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, we described the occurrence of a dehydroascorbate reductase within the rat CNS. This enzyme regenerates ascorbate after it is oxidized during normal aerobic metabolism. In this work, we describe the neuronal compartmentalization of the enzyme, using transmission electron microscopy of those brain areas in which the enzyme was most densely present when observed under light microscopy. In parallel biochemical studies, we performed immunoblotting and measured the enzyme activity of the cytoplasm and different nuclear fractions. Given the abundance of ascorbate in the caudate-putamen, we focused mostly on the occurrence of dehydroascorbate reductase at the striatal subcellular level. We also studied cerebellar Purkinje cells, hippocampal CA3 pyramidal cells and giant neurons in the magnocellular part of the red nucleus. In addition to neurons, immunolabeling was found in striatal endothelial cells, in the basal membrane of blood vessels and in perivascular astrocytes. In neuronal cytosol, the enzyme was observed in a peri-nuclear position and on the nuclear membrane. In addition, in both the striatum and the cerebellum, we found the enzyme within myelin sheets. Dehydroascorbate reductase was also present in the nucleus of neurons, as further indicated by measuring enzyme activity and by immunoblotting selected nuclear fractions. Immunocytochemical labeling confirmed that the protein was present in isolated pure nuclear fractions. Given the great amount of free radicals which are constantly generated in the CNS, the discovery of a new enzyme with antioxidant properties which translocates into neuronal nuclei appears to be a potential starting point to develop alternative strategies in neuroprotection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-31
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 10 2001


  • Antioxidant
  • Ascorbate
  • Dehydroascorbate
  • Dehydroascorbate reductase
  • Glutathione
  • Nuclear enzyme

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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