Reactive species and oxidative stress in optic nerve vulnerable to secondary degeneration

Ryan L. O'Hare Doig, Carole A. Bartlett, Ghassan J. Maghzal, Magdalena Lam, Michael Archer, Roland Stocker, Melinda Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Secondary degeneration contributes substantially to structural and functional deficits following traumatic injury to the CNS. While it has been proposed that oxidative stress is a feature of secondary degeneration, contributing reactive species and resultant oxidized products have not been clearly identified in vivo. The study is designed to identify contributors to, and consequences of, oxidative stress in a white matter tract vulnerable to secondary degeneration. Partial dorsal transection of the optic nerve (ON) was used to model secondary degeneration in ventral nerve unaffected by the primary injury. Reactive species were assessed using fluorescent labelling and liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectroscopy (LC/MS/MS). Antioxidant enzymes and oxidized products were semi-quantified immunohistochemically. Mitophagy was assessed by electron microscopy. Fluorescent indicators of reactive oxygen and/or nitrogen species increased at 1, 3 and 7. days after injury, in ventral ON. LC/MS/MS confirmed increases in reactive species linked to infiltrating microglia/macrophages in dorsal ON. Similarly, immunoreactivity for glutathione peroxidase and haem oxygenase-1 increased in ventral ON at 3 and 7. days after injury, respectively. Despite increased antioxidant immunoreactivity, DNA oxidation was evident from 1. day, lipid oxidation at 3. days, and protein nitration at 7. days after injury. Nitrosative and oxidative damage was particularly evident in CC1-positive oligodendrocytes, at times after injury at which structural abnormalities of the Node of Ranvier/paranode complex have been reported. The incidence of mitochondrial autophagic profiles was also significantly increased from 3. days. Despite modest increases in antioxidant enzymes, increased reactive species are accompanied by oxidative and nitrosative damage to DNA, lipid and protein, associated with increasing abnormal mitochondria, which together may contribute to the deficits of secondary degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-146
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Neurology
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidant enzymes
  • Mitophagy
  • Neurotrauma
  • Oxidative damage
  • Oxidative stress
  • Reactive species
  • Secondary degeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience

Cite this