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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes