Therapeutic potential of targeting hydrogen peroxide metabolism in the treatment of brain ischaemia

Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Jun;166(4):1211-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01912.x.


For many years after its discovery, hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂) was viewed as a toxic molecule to human tissues; however, in light of recent findings, it is being recognized as an ubiquitous endogenous molecule of life as its biological role has been better elucidated. Indeed, increasing evidence suggests that H₂O₂ may act as a second messenger with a pro-survival role in several physiological processes. In addition, our group has recently demonstrated neuroprotective effects of H₂O₂ on in vitro and in vivo ischaemic models through a catalase (CAT) enzyme-mediated mechanism. Therefore, the present review summarizes experimental data supporting a neuroprotective potential of H₂O₂ in ischaemic stroke that has been principally achieved by means of pharmacological and genetic strategies that modify either the activity or the expression of the superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and CAT enzymes, which are key regulators of H₂O₂ metabolism. It also critically discusses a translational impact concerning the role played by H₂O₂ in ischaemic stroke. Based on these data, we hope that further research will be done in order to better understand the mechanisms underlying H₂O₂ functions and to promote successful H₂O₂ signalling based therapy in ischaemic stroke.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Brain Ischemia / enzymology
  • Brain Ischemia / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / enzymology
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / enzymology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / agonists
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Oxidoreductases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Substantia Nigra / drug effects
  • Substantia Nigra / enzymology
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Oxidoreductases