Deficiency of ascorbic acid decreases the contents of tetrahydrobiopterin in the liver and the brain of ODS rats.
Neurosci Lett. 2019 Nov 30:134656. Epub 2019 Nov 30. PMID: 31794791
Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) is a cofactor for tyrosine hydroxylase and tryptophan hydroxylase, which are essential enzymes for the biosynthesis of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. It has been known that BH4 is a labile molecule and easily oxidized. As ascorbic acid (AsA) is an antioxidant that is rich in the brain, alteration in the AsA concentration in the brain may affect the proper metabolism of BH4. Here, we examined the effect of AsA deficiency on the concentration of BH4 using ODS rats, which are defective in the gene for AsA synthesis. Intake of an AsA-deficient diet for 2 weeks in ODS rats resulted in great reductions in the AsA levels up to 7% in the liver and up to 55% in the brain compared to animals fed a basal diet containing an adequate amount of AsA. The BH4 concentrations in ODS rats fed an AsA-free diet were decreased to 71% in the liver and 88% in the brain of those fed a basal diet. We found that the levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin were also decreased compared with the ODS rats fed a basal diet. Our data showed that AsA deficiency can affect the BH4 concentrations in the liver and brain, resulting in decreases in the monoamine levels in the brain. These results suggest the importance of AsA in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric and cardiovascular disorders through alteration in the BH4 metabolism.