BIOMEDICINE: Meeting O2 demand

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Science  21 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5614, pp. 1815e-1817e
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5614.1815e

Neuroglobin (Ngb) is a recently discovered O2-binding protein whose preferential expression in the vertebrate brain has sparked interest in its physiological function. Two new studies support the hypothesis that Ngb plays a key role in sensing or responding to O2 levels. Studying a rat model of focal cerebral ischemia (stroke), Sun et al. found that antisense-mediated reduction of Ngb levels before the ischemic insult exacerbated the histopathological and behavioral features of stroke. Thus, Ngb may act as an endogenous neuroprotective factor. Schmidt et al. studied Ngb in the retina, a tissue that has an exceptionally high O2 demand. Intriguingly, the level of Ngb in mouse retina was 100 times higher than that in the brain, and within the retina itself the distribution of Ngb correlated with relative O2 consumption. Whether Nbg enhances O2 delivery or acts by other mechanisms remains to be determined. — PAK

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 100, 3497 (2003); J. Biol. Chem. 278, 1932 (2003).

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