Lipid oxidation and peroxidation in CNS health and disease: from molecular mechanisms to therapeutic opportunities

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2010 Jan;12(1):125-69. doi: 10.1089/ars.2009.2668.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced at low levels in mammalian cells by various metabolic processes, such as oxidative phosphorylation by the mitochondrial respiratory chain, NAD(P)H oxidases, and arachidonic acid oxidative metabolism. To maintain physiological redox balance, cells have endogenous antioxidant defenses regulated at the transcriptional level by Nrf2/ARE. Oxidative stress results when ROS production exceeds the cell's ability to detoxify ROS. Overproduction of ROS damages cellular components, including lipids, leading to decline in physiological function and cell death. Reaction of ROS with lipids produces oxidized phospholipids, which give rise to 4-hydroxynonenal, 4-oxo-2-nonenal, and acrolein. The brain is susceptible to oxidative damage due to its high lipid content and oxygen consumption. Neurodegenerative diseases (AD, ALS, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, Friedreich's ataxia, HD, MS, NBIA, NPC, PD, peroxisomal disorders, schizophrenia, Wallerian degeneration, Zellweger syndrome) and CNS traumas (stroke, TBI, SCI) are problems of vast clinical importance. Free iron can react with H(2)O(2) via the Fenton reaction, a primary cause of lipid peroxidation, and may be of particular importance for these CNS injuries and disorders. Cholesterol is an important regulator of lipid organization and the precursor for neurosteroid biosynthesis. Atherosclerosis, the major risk factor for ischemic stroke, involves accumulation of oxidized LDL in the arteries, leading to foam cell formation and plaque development. This review will discuss the role of lipid oxidation/peroxidation in various CNS injuries/disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipid Peroxidation*