Spinal cord injury increases iron levels: Catalytic production of hydroxyl radicals

Danxia Liu, Jing Liu, Dachuan Sun, Nancy W. Alcock, Jing Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This study used a weight drop impact injury model to explore the role of iron and the reality of iron-catalyzed hydroxyl radical (OH) formation in secondary spinal cord injury (SCI). The time course of total extracellular iron was measured following SCI by microcannula sampling and atomic absorption spectrophotometry analysis. Immediately following SCI, the total iron concentration increased from an undetectable level to an average of 1.32 μM. The time course of SCI-induced OH-generating catalytic activity in the cord was obtained by determining the ability of tissue homogenate to convert hydrogen peroxide to OH and then measuring 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid, a hydroxylation product of salicylate. The concentration of 2,3-DHBA quickly and significantly increased (p <.001) and returned to sham level (p = 1) by 30 min post-SCI. Desferrioxamine (80 and 800 mg/kg body weight) significantly (p <.001) reduced the catalytic activity, suggesting that iron is the major contributor of the activity. Administering FeCl3 (100 μM)/EDTA (0.5 mM) in ACSF into the cord through a dialysis fiber significantly increased SCI-induced OH production in the extracellular space, demonstrating that Fe3+ can catalyze OH production in vivo. Our results support that iron-catalyzed OH formation plays a role in the early stage of secondary SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Catalytic activity
  • Desferrioxamine
  • Fenton reaction
  • Free radicals
  • HPLC analysis
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Iron-catalyzed hydroxyl radical formation
  • Microcannula sampling
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Secondary spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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