Redox cycling of the herbicide paraquat in microglial cultures

Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2005 Mar 24;134(1):52-6. doi: 10.1016/j.molbrainres.2004.11.005. Epub 2005 Jan 6.


Mechanisms involved in paraquat neurotoxicity that selectively target nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons remain relatively unknown. In this study, we tested the hypotheses that paraquat exposure leads to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) through a process of redox cycling and that microglia represent an important site for the initiation of redox cycling reactions. Addition of paraquat to N9 microglial cultures resulted in a dose- and time-dependent release of superoxide radicals. Other agents that share with paraquat the property of redox cycling, i.e., benzyl viologen and diquat, also induced a marked production of superoxide radicals by microglia. The ability of paraquat, benzyl viologen, and diquat to induce superoxide release was correlated to their one-electron reduction potentials and thus their tendency to redox cycle. Nitric oxide synthase and NADPH oxidase were identified as enzymatic sources of electrons that triggered paraquat redox cycling by microglia. Taken together, these data provide evidence in favor of a new mechanism by which microglia could play a role in oxidative injury during neurodegenerative processes. Microglial NOS and NADPH oxidase could promote the generation of ROS via the redox cycling of paraquat-like toxicants.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetophenones / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Benzyl Viologen / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Herbicides / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Microglia / drug effects*
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester / pharmacology
  • Nitroblue Tetrazolium / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects*
  • Paraquat / pharmacology*
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Acetophenones
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Herbicides
  • Superoxides
  • Benzyl Viologen
  • Nitroblue Tetrazolium
  • acetovanillone
  • Paraquat
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester