Peroxides are generated continuously in cells that consume oxygen. Among the different peroxides, hydrogen peroxide is the molecule that is formed in highest quantities. In addition, organic hydroperoxides are synthesized as products of cellular metabolism. Generation and disposal of peroxides is a very important process in the human brain, because cells of this organ consume 20% of the oxygen used by the body. To prevent cellular accumulation of peroxides and damage generated by peroxide-derived radicals, brain cells contain efficient antioxidative defense mechanisms that dispose of peroxides and protect against oxidative damage. Cultured brain cells have been used frequently to investigate peroxide metabolism of neural cells. Efficient disposal of exogenous hydrogen peroxide was found for cultured astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglial cells, and neurons. Comparison of specific peroxide clearance rates revealed that cultured oligodendrocytes dispose of the peroxide quicker than the other neural cell cultures. Both catalase and the glutathione system contribute to the clearance of hydrogen peroxide by brain cells. For efficient glutathione-dependent reduction of peroxides, neural cells contain glutathione in high concentration and have substantial activity of glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and enzymes that supply the NADPH required for the glutathione reductase reaction. This article gives an overview on the mechanisms involved in peroxide detoxification in brain cells and on the capacity of the different types of neural cells to dispose of peroxides.
(c) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.