Amyloid β, the major constituent of the senile plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease, is cytotoxic to neurons and has a central role in the pathogenesis of the disease. We have previously demonstrated that potent antioxidants idebenone and α-tocopherol prevent learning and memory impairment in rats which received a continuous intracerebroventricular infusion of amyloid β, suggesting a role for oxidative stress in amyloid β-induced learning and memory impairment. To test the hypothesis, in the present study, we investigated alterations in the immunoreactivity of endogenous antioxidant systems such as mitochondrial Mn-superoxide dismutase, glutathione, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase following the continuous intracerebroventricular infusion of amyloid β for 2 weeks. The infusion of amyloid β (1-42) resulted in a significant reduction of the immunoreactivity of these antioxidant substances in such brain areas as the hippocampus, parietal cortex, piriform cortex, substantia nigra and thalamus although the same treatment with amyloid β (40-1) had little effect. The alterations induced by amyloid β (1-42) were not uniform, but rather specific for each immunoreactive substance in a brain region-dependent manner. These results demonstrate a cytological effect of oxidative stress induced by amyloid β (1-42) infusion. Furthermore, our findings may indicate a heterogeneous susceptibility to the oxidative stress produced by amyloid β.
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