Exploring uncoupling proteins and antioxidant mechanisms under acute cold exposure in brains of fish

Yung Che Tseng, Ruo Dong Chen, Magnus Lucassen, Maike M. Schmidt, Ralf Dringen, Doris Abele, Pung Pung Hwang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Exposure to fluctuating temperatures accelerates the mitochondrial respiration and increases the formation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) in ectothermic vertebrates including fish. To date, little is known on potential oxidative damage and on protective antioxidative defense mechanisms in the brain of fish under cold shock. In this study, the concentration of cellular protein carbonyls in brain was significantly increased by 38% within 1 h after cold exposure (from 28°C to 18°C) of zebrafish (Danio rerio). In addition, the specific activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and the mRNA level of catalase (CAT) were increased after cold exposure by about 60% (6 h) and by 60%-90% (1 and 24 h), respectively, while the specific glutathione content as well as the ratio of glutathione disulfide to glutathione remained constant and at a very low level. In addition, cold exposure increased the protein level of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) by about 50% and the mRNA level of the glucose transporter zglut3 in brain by 50%-100%. To test for an involvement of uncoupling proteins (UCPs) in the cold adaptation of zebrafish, five UCP members were annotated and identified (zucp1-5). With the exception of zucp1, the mRNA levels of the other four zucps were significantly increased after cold exposure. In addition, the mRNA levels of four of the fish homologs (zppar) of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) were increased after cold exposure. These data suggest that PPARs and UCPs are involved in the alterations observed in zebrafish brain after exposure to 18°C. The observed stimulation of the PPAR-UCP axis may help to prevent oxidative damage and to maintain metabolic balance and cellular homeostasis in the brains of ectothermic zebrafish upon cold exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere18180
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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