Oligodendroglial cells in culture effectively dispose of exogenous hydrogen peroxide: comparison with cultured neurones, astroglial and microglial cells


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Ralf Dringen, Physiologisch-chemisches Institut der Universität, Hoppe-Seyler-Str. 4, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany. E-mail: ralf.dringen@uni -tuebingen.de


To investigate the antioxidative capacities of oligodendrocytes, rat brain cultures enriched for oligodendroglial cells were prepared and characterized. These cultures contained predominantly oligodendroglial cells as determined by immunocytochemical staining for the markers galactocerebroside and myelin basic protein. If oligodendroglial cultures were exposed to exogenous hydrogen peroxide (100 µm), the peroxide disappeared from the incubation medium following first order kinetics with a half-time of approximately 18 min. Normalization of the disposal rate to the protein content of the cultures by calculation of the specific hydrogen peroxide detoxification rate constant revealed that the cells in oligodendroglial cultures have a 60% to 120% higher specific capacity to dispose of hydrogen peroxide than cultures enriched for astroglial cells, microglial cells or neurones. Oligodendroglial cultures contained specific activities of 133.5 ± 30.4 nmol × min−1 × mg protein−1 and 27.5 ± 5.4 nmol × min−1 ×  mg protein−1 of glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase, respectively. The specific rate constant of catalase in these cultures was 1.61 ± 0.54 min−1 × mg protein−1. Comparison with data obtained by identical methods for cultures of astroglial cells, microglial cells and neurones revealed that all three of the enzymes which are involved in hydrogen peroxide disposal were present in oligodendroglial cultures in the highest specific activities. These results demonstrate that oligodendroglial cells in culture have a prominent machinery for the disposal of hydrogen peroxide, which is likely to support the protection of these cells in brain against peroxides when produced by these or by surrounding brain cells.