Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract 1. Carnosine, anserine, and homocarnosine are endogenous dipeptides concentrated in brain and muscle whose biological functions remain in doubt. 2. We have tested the hypothesis that these compounds function as endogenous protective substances against molecular and cellular damage from free radicals, using two isolated enzyme systems and two models of ischemic brain injury. Carnosine and homocarnosine are both effective in activating brain Na, K-ATPase measured under optimal conditions and in reducing the loss of its activity caused by incubation with hydrogen peroxide. 3. In contrast, all three endogenous dipeptides cause a reduction in the activity of brain tyrosine hydroxylase, an enzyme activated by free radicals. In hippocampal brain slices subjected to ischemia, carnosine increased the time to loss of excitability. 4. In in vivo experiments on rats under experimental hypobaric hypoxia, carnosine increased the time to loss of ability to stand and breath and decreased the time to recovery. 5. These actions are explicable by effects of carnosine and related compounds which neutralize free radicals, particularly hydroxyl radicals. In all experiments the effective concentration of carnosine was comparable to or lower than those found in brain. These observations provide further support for the conclusion that protection against free radical damage is a major role of carnosine, anserine, and homocarnosine.
Type of Medium: