Histochemical Detection of Quinone Reductase Activity In Situ Using LY 83583 Reduction and Oxidation


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. T. H. Murphy at Kinsmen Laboratory, Departments of Psychiatry and Physiology, University of British Columbia, 2255 Westbrook Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z3.


Abstract: The application of enzymatic staining techniques, using tetrazolium dyes, to aldehyde-treated brain sections has revealed the presence of NADPH-diaphorase activity attributed to nitric oxide synthase. When evaluating the specificity of the putative guanylyl cyclase inhibitor LY 83583, a robust and novel staining pattern was noted in epithelial, endothelial, and astrocytic cells when LY 83583 was included in the NADPH-diaphorase histochemical reaction. This LY 83583-dependent staining could be blocked by the NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase inhibitor dicumarol. Based on its quinone structure, we hypothesized that LY 83583 was a substrate for the enzyme NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase. Transfection of human embryonic kidney 293 cells with the rat liver isoform of NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase resulted in robust NADPH- and LY 83583-dependent staining that was completely blocked by dicumarol and was not observed in untransfected cells. Analysis of transfected cell extracts and brain homogenates indicated that LY 83583 was a substrate for NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase, with a Km similar to the well-characterized substrate menadione. Sensitivity of the nitroblue tetrazolium reduction to superoxide dismutase indicated that the reduction of LY 83583 by NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase leads to superoxide generation. The localization of NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase activity to astrocytic cells suggests a role for glia in combating oxidative insults to brain and in activating quinone-like drugs such as LY 83583.