The Effects of Tetrahydrobiopterin on Oxidative Stress and Mitochondrial Function


Un Jung Kang, M.D.
The University of Chicago, Illinois


Another year of PDF funding will be used by Dr. Un Jung Kang at the University of Chicago to further his studies of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction toward solving the pathology (the study of the cause of cell death) of PD brains. Neurons that naturally have higher levels of reduced glutathione along with the antioxidant tetrahyrobiopterin (BH4) seem more stress-resistent than do others lacking those substances. Dr. Kang's work will attempt to prove his hypothesis that BH4 directly scavenges superoxide (produced during oxidative stress) and also look more closely at the effects of BH4 on the energy-producing part of mitochondria (complex 1).

Progress Report (as of 3/2003)

Dr. Un Jung Kang (University of Chicago) is yet another scientist seeking neuroprotective factors in animal models of parkinsonism that might prove helpful to human patients with PD. He and his group have been examining the novel effects of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) in mitochondria (the mitochondrial transport complexes are impaired in PD brains), and their earlier data (last year’s grant) were confirmed by another group at the Society for Neurosciences meeting last fall. It is now accepted that BH4 is indeed neuroprotective to dopaminergic neurons in cultures (in vitro) against MPTP toxicity. They followed with animal studies (in vivo) with protection seen in very few mice. Additional animals are now being studied and Dr. Kang considers the data sufficient to apply to NIH for funding to continue this line of investigation.