Spectrofluorescent detection of malonaldehyde as a measure of lipid free radical damage in response to ethanol potentiation of spinal cord trauma

Myron L. Seligman, Eugene S. Flamm, Bernard D. Goldstein, Richard G. Poser, Harry B. Demopoulos, Joseph Ransohoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Studies of the role of free radical damage to the spinal cord following a 400 g-cm impact have suggested an increase in at least one free radical product, malonaldehyde, 24-36 hr post injury. To investigate further the role of free radical lipid peroxidation in degeneration of the spinal cord following injury, a study of specific lipid fluorescence (SLF) indicative of the double Schiff-base adduct formed by a reaction between malonaldehyde and cellular components was carried out in the presence of ethanol, a known potentiator of free radical lipid peroxidation. The study was carried out in cats who received a 200 g-cm impact 3 hr to 23 days prior to sacrifice. Half of the impacted animals received ethanol, 5 ml/kg, prior to injury. These animals were rendered paraplegic, whereas the nonethanol treated animals were neurologically intact. Controls consisting of laminectomies alone or laminectomies with ethanol but without injury were also studied. Spinal cord segments at the impact or laminectomy site were minced and extracted with chloroform-methanol, cleared by centrifugation, and examined in a scanning fluorometer with excitation maximum at 360 nm and emission maxima at 420, 440, 450, and 460 nm. SLF was minimal in cats 3 hr and 1 day post injury, but markedly increased at 3 days. By 5 days, background levels were again found in all groups. SLF in the alcohol-pretreated impact animals rose to a peak at 7 days, followed by a decline to background by 10 days. The presence of SLF supports a role for free radical lipid peroxidation in the degenerative changes in the spinal cord following injury. The findings of two peaks of SLF activity suggest two different sites of damage. One site, found acutely after injury, appears in all groups and was associated with reversible changes, while the other site is associated with later changes and chronic paraplegia only. The two sites could be the gray and white matter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)945-950
Number of pages6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


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