Ascorbate, glutathione and α-tocopherol are the major low molecular weight antioxidants in the brain. The simultaneous changes in these compounds during normal development, and under a pro-oxidant condition are poorly understood. Ascorbate, glutathione and α-tocopherol concentrations in the olfactory bulb, cerebral cortex, hippocampus, striatum, hypothalamus, midbrain, cerebellum, pons and medulla oblongata were determined in postnatal day (P) 7, P14 and P60 male rats. A separate group of P14 and P60 rats were subjected to acute hypoglycemia, a pro-oxidant condition, prior to tissue collection. The concentrations of all three antioxidants were 100-600% higher in the brain regions at P7 and P14, relative to P60. The neuron-rich anterior brain regions (cerebral cortex and hippocampus) had higher concentrations of all three antioxidants than the myelin-rich posterior regions (pons and medulla oblongata) at P14 and P60. Hypoglycemia had a differential effect on the antioxidants. Glutathione was decreased at both P14 and P60. However, the decrease was localized at P14 and global at P60. Hypoglycemia had no effect on ascorbate and α-tocopherol at either age. Higher antioxidant concentrations in the developing brain may reflect the risk of oxidant stress during the early postnatal period and explain the relative resistance to oxidant-mediated injury at this age.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge Maurice W. Dysken, MD, Director, GRECC Program, Minneapolis VA Health Care System for his support, and Kathleen Czerniak for assistance with the experiments. This project was supported with resources and the use of facilities at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, and by grants from National Institute of Child Health and Human Development ( HD47276 ) and Viking Children's Fund. The manuscript is dedicated to the memory of Govind T. Vatassery, PhD.