Temporal and spatial dynamics of peroxynitrite-induced oxidative damage after spinal cord contusion injury

Kimberly M. Carrico, Radhika Vaishnav, Edward D. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The reactive nitrogen species peroxynitrite (PN) has been suggested to be an important mediator of the secondary oxidative damage that occurs following acute spinal cord injury (SCI). The PN decomposition products nitrogen dioxide (•NO2), hydroxyl radical (•OH), and carbonate radical (•CO3) are highly reactive with cellular lipids and proteins. In this immunohistochemical study, we examined the temporal (3, 24, and 72 h, and 1 and 2 weeks) and spatial relationships of PN-mediated oxidative damage in the contusion-injured rat thoracic spinal cord (IH device, 200 kdyn, T10) using 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT), a marker for protein nitration by PN-derived •NO2 and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), an indicator of lipid peroxidation (LP) initiated by any of the PN radicals. Minimal 3-NT or 4-HNE immunostaining was seen in sham, non-injured spinal cords. In contrast, both markers showed a substantial increase at 3 h post-injury at the epicenter, that extended throughout the gray matter and into the surrounding white matter. At 24 and 72 h, the oxidative damage expanded circumferentially to involve all but a small rim of white matter tissue at the injury site, and longitudinally as much as 6-9 mm in the rostral and caudal directions. The staining was observed in neuronal soma, axons, and microvessels. At all time points except 3 h, there was no significant difference in the mean rostral or caudal extent of 3-NT and 4-HNE staining. By 1, and more so at 2 weeks, the longitudinal extent of the oxidative damage staining was greatly decreased. The spatial and temporal overlap of 3-NT and 4-HNE staining supports the concept that PN is involved in both damage produced by lipid peroxidation and protein nitration, and that antioxidant agents that target PN or PN-derived radicals should be effective neuroprotectants for acute SCI if administered during the first post-injury hours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1369-1378
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009


  • 3-nitrotyrosine
  • 4-hydroxynonenal
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Peroxynitrite
  • Protein nitration
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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