Oxidative Stress Levels in the Brain Are Determined by Post-Mortem Interval and Ante-Mortem Vitamin C State but Not Alzheimer's Disease Status

Nutrients. 2018 Jul 9;10(7):883. doi: 10.3390/nu10070883.


The current study highlighted several changes in measures of oxidative stress and antioxidant status that take place in the mouse brain over the course of 24 h post-mortem. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and glutathione both decreased significantly in cortex in as little as 2 h and malondialdehyde levels increased. Further change from baseline was observed up to 24 h, including carbonyl and sulfhydryl formation. The greatest changes were observed in brains that began with low ascorbic acid levels (gulo−/− mice) compared to wild-type or 5XFAD mice. Cortical samples from nine Alzheimer’s Disease cases and five controls were also assayed under the same conditions. Post mortem intervals ranged from 6 to 47 h and all samples had low ascorbic acid levels at time of measurement. Malondialdehyde levels were lower in Alzheimer’s Disease cases. Despite a strong positive correlation between ascorbic acid and glutathione levels, no other correlations among oxidative stress measures or post mortem interval were observed. Together the data suggest that molecular changes occurring within the first hours of death may mask differences between patient groups. Care must be taken interpreting studies in human brain tissue where ante-mortem nutrient status is not known to avoid bias or confounding of results.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s Disease; brain; oxidative stress; post mortem interval; vitamin C.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism*
  • Autopsy
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Humans
  • L-Gulonolactone Oxidase / deficiency
  • L-Gulonolactone Oxidase / genetics
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Postmortem Changes*
  • Protein Carbonylation
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Malondialdehyde
  • L-Gulonolactone Oxidase
  • Glutathione
  • Ascorbic Acid