Insights into the role of oxidative stress in the pathology of Friedreich ataxia using peroxidation resistant polyunsaturated fatty acids
Friedreich ataxia is an autosomal recessive, inherited neuro- and cardio-degenerative disorder characterized by progressive ataxia of all four limbs, dysarthria, areflexia, sensory loss, skeletal deformities, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Most disease alleles have a trinucleotide repeat expansion in the first intron of the FXN gene, which decreases expression of the encoded protein frataxin. Frataxin is involved in iron–sulfur-cluster (ISC) assembly in the mitochondrial matrix, and decreased frataxin is associated with ISC-enzyme and mitochondrial dysfunction, mitochondrial iron accumulation, and increased oxidative stress. To assess the role of oxidative stress in lipid peroxidation in Friedreich ataxia we used the novel approach of treating Friedreich ataxia cell models with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) deuterated at bis-allylic sites. In ROS-driven oxidation of PUFAs, the rate-limiting step is hydrogen abstraction from a bis-allylic site; isotopic reinforcement (deuteration) of bis-allylic sites slows down their peroxidation. We show that linoleic and α-linolenic acids deuterated at the peroxidation-prone bis-allylic positions actively rescue oxidative-stress-challenged Friedreich ataxia cells. The protective effect of the deuterated PUFAs is additive in our models with the protective effect of the CoQ10 analog idebenone, which is thought to decrease the production of free radicals. Moreover, the administration of deuterated PUFAs resulted in decreased lipid peroxidation as measured by the fluorescence of the fatty acid analog C11-BODIPY (581/591) probe. Our results are consistent with a role for lipid peroxidation in Friedreich ataxia pathology, and suggest that the novel approach of oral delivery of isotope-reinforced PUFAs may have therapeutic potential in Friedreich ataxia and other disorders involving oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation.