Accumulation of oxidatively generated DNA damage in the brain: A mechanism of neurotoxicity

Liuji Chen, Heung M. Lee, George H. Greeley, Ella W. Englander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Unrepaired or erroneously repaired DNA lesions drive genomic instability and contribute to cellular and organ decline. Since delayed neuropathologies are common in survivors of smoke inhalation injuries, we asked whether the integrity of brain DNA might be compromised by acute exposure to combustion smoke. Although many studies demonstrate that the brain is equipped to repair oxidatively damaged DNA, to date, the capacity for accurate DNA repair under conditions of disrupted oxygenation and oxidative stress has not been defined. We show that DNA adducts detectable by their ability to block PCR amplification form in the rat hippocampus after acute exposure to smoke. To identify the different types of adducts and to dissect their temporal formation and repair profiles in vivo in the brain, we used DNA-modifying enzymes to convert specific adducts into strand breaks prior to PCR amplification. Using this strategy, we detected formation of oxidative DNA adducts early on after smoke inhalation, while mismatched bases emerged at the later recovery times, potentially due to an erroneous DNA repair process. Erroneous repair can be mutagenic and because the initial smoke-induced oxidative damage to DNA is extensive, compromised fidelity of DNA repair may underlie neurotoxicity and contribute to delayed death of hippocampal neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-393
Number of pages9
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007


  • 8-oxodG
  • APE1
  • Base excision repair
  • Brain
  • Combustion smoke inhalation
  • DNA repair fidelity
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Mismatched DNA bases
  • Neuronal injury
  • OGG1
  • Oxidative DNA lesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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