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Effect of l-Carnitine Pretreatment on 3-Nitropropionic Acid-Induced Inhibition of Rat Brain Succinate Dehydrogenase Activity


Address for correspondence: Dr. Zbigniew K. Binienda, Division of Neurotoxicology, HFT-132, FDA/NCTR, Jefferson, AR 72079-9502, U.S.A. Voice: 870-543-7920; fax: 870-543-7745;


Abstract: l-Carnitine (LC) plays an important regulatory role in the mitochondrial transport of long chain free fatty acids (FFA). 3-Nitropropionic acid (3-NPA) is known to induce cellular energy deficit and oxidative stress-related neurotoxicity via an irreversible inhibition of mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase (SDH). In the present study, activity of SDH was measured in order to evaluate neuroprotective effects of LC against the 3-NPA-induced neurotoxicity. Male, CD Sprague-Dawley rats, three months old, were injected with either 50 or 100 mg/kg of LC, i.p., 30 min prior to 3-NPA (30 mg/kg, s.c.) or with 3-NPA alone. The activity of brain SDH was quantified spectrophotometrically in caudate nucleus (CN), frontal cortex (FC), and hippocampus (HIP) 60 min after the 3-NPA injection. The SDH activity in the animals treated with 3-NPA alone was 38% (CN), 50% (FC), and 36% (HIP) that of saline controls. Pretreatment with LC prior to 3-NPA injection attenuated decreases of SDH activity by approximately 15 and 29% (LC low and high dose, respectively). Despite the attenuation of SDH inhibition, the activity of SDH in these regions remained significantly lower in treated than in control rats (p < 0.05). It appears that the protective effect of LC against 3-NPA-induced oxidative stress cannot be explained by the direct action of LC to interfere with the SDH inhibition but are rather achieved by LC actions downstream of the SDH inhibition.