The cluster of neurodegenerative disorders in the western Pacific termed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–parkinsonism dementia complex (ALS-PDC) has been repeatedly linked to the use of seeds of various species of cycad. Identification and chemical synthesis of the most toxic compounds in the washed cycad seeds, a variant phytosteryl glucosides, and even more toxic cholesterol β-d-glucoside (CG), which is produced by the human parasite Helicobacter pylori, provide a possibility to study in vitro the mechanisms of toxicity of these compounds. We studied in detail the effects of CG on the respiratory activities and generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by nonsynaptic brain and heart mitochondria oxidizing various substrates. The stimulatory effects of CG on respiration and ROS generation showed strong substrate dependence, suggesting involvement of succinate dehydrogenase (complex II). Maximal effects on ROS production were observed with 1 μmol CG/1 mg mitochondria. At this concentration the cycad toxins β-sitosterol-β-d-glucoside and stigmasterol-β-d-glucoside had effects on respiration and ROS production similar to CG. However, poor solubility precluded full concentration analysis of these toxins. Cholesterol, stigmasterol and β-sitosterol had no effect on mitochondrial functions studied at concentrations up to 100 μmol/mg protein. Our results suggest that CG may influence mitochondrial functions through changes in the packing of the bulk membrane lipids, as was shown earlier by Deliconstantinos et al. (Biochem Cell Biol 67:16–24, 1989). The neurotoxic effects of phytosteryl glucosides and CG may be associated with increased oxidative damage of neurons. Unlike heart mitochondria, in activated neurons mitochondria specifically increase ROS production associated with succinate oxidation (Panov et al., J Biol Chem 284:14448–14456, 2009).
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 12, 2010
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