Administration of the Nrf2-ARE activators sulforaphane and carnosic acid attenuates 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal-induced mitochondrial dysfunction ex vivo

Darren M. Miller, Indrapal N. Singh, Juan A. Wang, Edward D. Hall

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78 Scopus citations


The transcription factor NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) mediates transcription of antioxidant/cytoprotective genes by binding to the antioxidant-response element (ARE) within DNA. Upregulation of these genes constitutes a pleiotropic cytoprotective defense pathway, which has been shown to produce neuroprotection in numerous models by decreasing lipid peroxidation (LP) as measured by the neurotoxic LP by-product 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE). As neuronal mitochondria have previously been shown to be susceptible to insult-induced LP-mediated oxidative damage, we sought to mechanistically investigate whether Nrf2-ARE activation in vivo could protect mitochondria from subsequent 4-HNE exposure ex vivo. Young adult male CF-1 mice were administered one of two known Nrf2-ARE activators as single intraperitoneal doses - sulforaphane (SFP; 5.0 mg/kg) or carnosic acid (CA; 1.0 mg/kg) - or their respective vehicles 48 h before Ficoll isolation of rat cerebral cortical mitochondria. Purified mitochondria were then exposed ex vivo to 4-HNE for 15 min at 37 °C, which we showed to cause a concentration-related inhibition of mitochondrial respiration together with covalent binding of 4-HNE to mitochondrial proteins. We chose a 30 μM concentration of 4-HNE, which produced an approximately 50% inhibition of complex I- or complex II-driven respiration, to assess whether prior in vivo Nrf2-ARE-activating compounds would increase the resistance of the isolated cortical mitochondria to 4-HNE's mitotoxic effects. Administration of either compound significantly increased (p<0.05) expression of heme oxygenase-1 mRNA in cortical tissue 48 h postadministration, verifying that both compounds were capable of inducing the Nrf2-ARE pathway. Moreover, the prior in vivo administration of SFP and CA significantly (p<0.05) attenuated 4-HNE-induced inhibition of mitochondrial respiration for complex I, but only carnosic acid acted to protect complex II. Furthermore, both CA and SFP significantly (p<0.05) reduced the amount of 4-HNE bound to mitochondrial proteins as determined by Western blot. These results demonstrate the capability of in vivo Nrf2-ARE induction to protect from 4-HNE toxicity to cortical mitochondria ex vivo. Ongoing studies will determine the therapeutic efficacy of Nrf2-ARE activators to attenuate traumatic brain injury-induced pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Grants NIH-NIDA 1T32 DA022738 and NIH-NINDS 2P30 NS051220-01 and funds from the Kentucky Spinal Cord & Head Injury Research Trust.


  • 4-Hydroxy-2-nonenal
  • Free radicals
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Mitochondria
  • Nrf2
  • Oxidative damage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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