Hideshi Ihara, Yuki Kakihana, Akane Yamakage, Kenji Kai, Takahiro Shibata, Motohiro Nishida, Ken-ichi Yamda, and Koji Uchida


Imidazole-containing dipeptides (IDPs), such as carnosine and anserine, are found exclusively in various animal tissues, especially in the skeletal muscles and nerves. IDPs have antioxidant activity because of their metal-chelating and free radical-scavenging properties. However, the underlying mechanisms that would fully explain IDP antioxidant effects remain obscure. Here, using HPLC–electrospray ionization–tandem MS analyses, we comprehensively investigated carnosine and its related small peptides in the soluble fractions of mouse tissue homogenates and ubiquitously detected 2-oxo-histidine–containing dipeptides (2-oxo-IDPs) in all examined tissues. We noted enhanced production of the 2-oxo-IDPs in the brain of a mouse model of sepsis-associated encephalopathy. Moreover, in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells stably expressing carnosine synthase, H2O2 exposure resulted in the intracellular production of 2-oxo-carnosine, which was associated with significant inhibition of the H2O2 cytotoxicity. Notably, 2-oxo-carnosine showed a better antioxidant activity than endogenous antioxidants such as GSH and ascorbate. Mechanistic studies indicated that carnosine monooxygenation is mediated through the formation of a histidyl-imidazole radical, followed by the addition of molecular oxygen. Our findings reveal that 2-oxo-IDPs are metal-catalyzed oxidation products present in vivo and provide a revised paradigm for understanding the antioxidant effects of the IDPs.

Paper Information

: The Journal of Biological Chemistry
: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.006111