, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 517-524
Date: 01 Feb 2007

Fulminant Hepatic Failure in Rats Induces Oxidative Stress Differentially in Cerebral Cortex, Cerebellum and Pons Medulla

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Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE) is one of the most common complications of acute liver diseases and is known to have profound influence on the brain. Most of the studies, available from the literature are pertaining to whole brain homogenates or mitochondria. Since brain is highly heterogeneous with functions localized in specific areas, the present study was aimed to assess the oxidative stress in different regions of brain-cerebral cortex, cerebellum and pons medulla during acute HE. Acute liver failure was induced in 3-month old adult male Wistar rats by intraperitoneal injection of thioacetamide (300 mg/kg body weight for two days), a well known hepatotoxin. Oxidative stress conditions were assessed by free radical production, lipid peroxidation, nitric oxide levels, GSH/GSSG ratio and antioxidant enzyme machinery in three distinct structures of rat brain-cerebral cortex, cerebellum and pons medulla. Results of the present study indicate a significant increase in malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, reactive oxygen species (ROS), total nitric oxide levels [(NO) estimated by measuring (nitrites + nitrates)] and a decrease in GSH/GSSG ratio in all the regions of brain. There was also a marked decrease in the activity of the antioxidant enzymes-glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase and catalase while the super oxide dismutase activity (SOD) increased. However, the present study also revealed that pons medulla and cerebral cortex were more susceptible to oxidative stress than cerebellum. The increased vulnerability to oxidative stress in pons medulla could be due to the increased NO levels and increased activity of SOD and decreased glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase activities. In summary, the present study revealed that oxidative stress prevails in different cerebral regions analyzed during thioacetamide-induced acute liver failure with more pronounced effects on pons medulla and cerebral cortex.

Murthy Ch.R.K—Deceased while in service.