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Neuroprotective Effect of Hydrogen Sulfide in Hyperhomocysteinemia Is Mediated Through Antioxidant Action Involving Nrf2

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Homocysteine (Hcy) is a sulfur-containing amino acid derived from methionine metabolism. Elevated plasma Hcy levels (> 15 µM) result in a condition called hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy), which is an independent risk factor in the development of various neurodegenerative disorders. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by auto-oxidation of Hcy have been implicated in HHcy-associated neurological conditions. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is emerging as a potent neuroprotective and neuromodulator molecule. The present study was aimed to evaluate the ability of NaHS (a source of H2S) to attenuate Hcy-induced oxidative stress and altered antioxidant status in animals subjected to HHcy. Impaired cognitive functions assessed by Y-maze and elevated plus maze in Hcy-treated animals were reversed on NaHS administration. Increased levels of ROS, lipid peroxidation, protein carbonyls, and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE)-modified proteins were observed in the cortex and hippocampus of Hcy-treated animals suggesting accentuated oxidative stress. This increase in Hcy-induced oxidative stress was reversed following NaHS supplementation. GSH/GSSG ratio, activity of antioxidant enzymes viz; superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and glutathione-S-transferase were decreased in Hcy-treated animals. NaHS supplementation, on the otherhand, restored redox ratio and activity of antioxidant enzymes in the brains of animals with HHcy. Further, NaHS administration normalized nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 expression and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in the brain of Hcy-treated animals. Histopathological studies using cresyl violet indicated higher number of pyknotic neurons in the cortex and hippocampus of HHcy animals, which were reversed by NaHS administration. The results clearly demonstrate that NaHS treatment significantly ameliorates Hcy-induced cognitive impairment by attenuating oxidative stress, improving antioxidant status, and modulating AChE activity thereby suggesting potential of H2S as a therapeutic molecule.

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The financial assistance provided by the Department of Bio-Technology (DBT), Govt. of India, New Delhi (Grant No. BT/361/NE/TBP/2012) is acknowledged. The fellowship to MK from the University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi [F.17-7(J)/2004(SA-1)] is also acknowledged. The authors also acknowledge financial assistance provided by Department of Science and Technology (DST) New Delhi, under the Promotion of University Research and Scientific Excellence (PURSE) and by UGC under the Special Assistance Program (UGC-SAP DRS phase-II).

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Correspondence to Rajat Sandhir.

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Kumar, M., Sandhir, R. Neuroprotective Effect of Hydrogen Sulfide in Hyperhomocysteinemia Is Mediated Through Antioxidant Action Involving Nrf2. Neuromol Med 20, 475–490 (2018).

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