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Life Extension Magazine

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January 2001


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Protective effects of carnosine against malondialdehyde-induced toxicity towards cultured rat brain endothelial cells.

Malondialdehyde (MDA) is a deleterious end-product of lipid peroxidation. The naturally-occurring dipeptide carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) is found in brain and innervated tissues at concentrations up to 20 mM. Recent studies have shown that carnosine can protect proteins against cross-linking mediated by aldehyde-containing sugars and glycolytic intermediates. Here we have investigated whether carnosine is protective against malondialdehyde-induced protein damage and cellular toxicity. The results show that carnosine can (1) protect cultured rat brain endothelial cells against MDA-induced toxicity and (2) inhibit MDA-induced protein modification (formation of cross-links and carbonyl groups).

Neurosci Lett 1997 Dec 5;238(3):135-8

The antihypertensive hydralazine is an efficient scavenger of acrolein.

Recent work indicates the highly toxic alpha,beta-unsaturated aldehyde acrolein is formed during the peroxidation of polyunsaturated lipids, raising the possibility that it functions as a 'toxicological second messenger' during oxidative cell injury. Acrolein reacts rapidly with proteins, forming adducts that retain carbonyl groups. Damage by this route may thus contribute to the burden of carbonylated proteins in tissues. This work evaluated several amine compounds with known aldehyde-scavenging properties for their ability to attenuate protein carbonylation by acrolein. The compounds tested were: (i) the glycoxidation inhibitors, aminoguanidine and carnosine; (ii) the antihypertensive, hydralazine; and (iii) the classic carbonyl reagent, methoxyamine. Each compound attenuated carbonylation of a model protein, bovine serum albumin, during reactions with acrolein at neutral pH and 37 degrees C. However, the most efficient agent was hydralazine, which strongly suppressed carbonylation under these conditions. Study of the rate of reaction between acrolein and the various amines in a protein-free buffered system buttressed these findings, since hydralazine reacted with acrolein at rates 2-3 times faster than its reaction with the other scavengers. Hydralazine also protected isolated mouse hepatocytes against cell killing by allyl alcohol, which undergoes in situ alcohol dehydrogenase-catalysed conversion to acrolein.

Redox Rep 2000;5(1):47-9

Carnosine reacts with a glycated protein.

Oxidation and glycation induce formation of carbonyl (CO) groups in proteins, a characteristic of cellular aging. The dipeptide carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) is often found in long-lived mammalian tissues at relatively high concentrations (up to 20 mM). Previous studies show that carnosine reacts with low-molecular-weight aldehydes and ketones. We examine here the ability of carnosine to react with ovalbumin CO groups generated by treatment of the protein with methylglyoxal (MG). Incubation of MG-treated protein with carnosine accelerated a slow decline in CO groups as measured by dinitrophenylhydrazine reactivity. Incubation of [(14)C]-carnosine with MG-treated ovalbumin resulted in a radiolabeled precipitate on addition of trichloroacetic acid (TCA); this was not observed with control, untreated protein. The presence of lysine or N-(alpha)-acetylglycyl-lysine methyl ester caused a decrease in the TCA-precipitable radiolabel. Carnosine also inhibited cross-linking of the MG-treated ovalbumin to lysine and normal, untreated alpha-crystallin. We conclude that carnosine can react with protein CO groups (termed "carnosinylation") and thereby modulate their deleterious interaction with other polypeptides. It is proposed that, should similar reactions occur intracellularly, then carnosine's known "anti-aging" actions might, at least partially, be explained by the dipeptide facilitating the inactivation/removal of deleterious proteins bearing carbonyl groups.

Free Radic Biol Med 2000 May 15;28(10):1564-70

Toxic effects of beta-amyloid(25-35) on immortalised rat brain endothelial cell: protection by carnosine, homocarnosine and beta-alanine.

The effect of a truncated form of the neurotoxin beta-amyloid peptide (A beta25-35) on rat brain vascular endothelial cells (RBE4 cells) was studied in cell culture. Toxic effects of the peptide were seen at 200 microg/ml A beta using a mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity (MTT) reduction assay, lactate dehydrogenase release and glucose consumption. Cell damage could be prevented completely at 200 microg/ml A beta and partially at 300 microg/ml A beta, by the dipeptide carnosine. Carnosine is a naturally occurring dipeptide found at high levels in brain tissue and innervated muscle of mammals including humans. Agents which share properties similar to carnosine, such as beta-alanine, homocarnosine, the anti-glycating agent aminoguanidine, and the antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD), also partially rescued cells, although not as effectively as carnosine. We postulate that the mechanism of carnosine protection lies in its anti-glycating and antioxidant activities, both of which are implicated in neuronal and endothelial cell damage during Alzheimer's disease. Carnosine may therefore be a useful therapeutic agent.

Neurosci Lett 1998 Feb 13;242(2):105-8

Hydrogen peroxide-mediated protein oxidation in young and old human MRC-5 fibroblasts.

It is suggested that the aging process is dependent on the action of free radicals. One of the highlights of age-related changes of cellular metabolism is the accumulation of oxidized proteins. The present investigation was undertaken to reveal the proliferation-related changes in the protein oxidation and proteasome activity during and after an acute oxidative stress. It could be demonstrated that the activity of the cytosolic proteasomal system declines during proliferative senescence of human MRC-5 fibroblasts and is not able to remove oxidized proteins in old cells efficiently. Whereas in young cells removal of oxidized proteins was accompanied by an increase in the overall protein turnover, this increase in protein turnover could not be seen in old MRC-5 fibroblasts. Therefore, our studies demonstrate that old fibroblasts are much more vulnerable to the accumulation of oxidized proteins after oxidative stress and are not able to remove these oxidized proteins as efficiently as young fibroblasts.

Arch Biochem Biophys 2000 Mar 1;375(1):50-4

Carnosine protects against excitotoxic cell death independently of effects on reactive oxygen species.

The role of carnosine, N-acetylcarnosine and homocarnosine as scavengers of reactive oxygen species and protectors against neuronal cell death secondary to excitotoxic concentrations of kainate and N-methyl-D-aspartate was studied using acutely dissociated cerebellar granule cell neurons and flow cytometry. We find that carnosine, N-acetylcarnosine and homocarnosine at physiological concentrations are all potent in suppressing fluorescence of 2',7'-dichlorofluorescein, which reacts with intracellularly generated reactive oxygen species. However, only carnosine in the same concentration range was effective in preventing apoptotic neuronal cell death, studied using a combination of the DNA binding dye, propidium iodide, and a fluorescent derivative of the phosphatidylserine-binding dye, Annexin-V. Our results indicate that carnosine and related compounds are effective scavengers of reactive oxygen species generated by activation of ionotropic glutamate receptors, but that this action does not prevent excitotoxic cell death. Some other process which is sensitive to carnosine but not the related compounds is a critical factor in cell death. These observations indicate that at least in this system reactive oxygen species generation is not a major contributor to excitotoxic neuronal cell death.

Neuroscience 1999;94(2):571-7

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