Alteration in Cerebral Metabolism in a Rodent Model of Acute Sub-lethal Cyanide Poisoning

Oladunni Alomaja, Frances S. Shofer, John C. Greenwood, Sarah Piel, Carly Clayman, Clementina Mesaros, Shih Han Kao, Samuel S. Shin, Johannes K. Ehinger, Todd J. Kilbaugh, David H. Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Cyanide exposure can occur in various settings such as industry and metallurgy. The primary mechanism of injury is cellular hypoxia from Complex IV (CIV) inhibition. This leads to decreased ATP production and increased reactive oxygen species production. The brain and the heart are the organs most affected due to their high metabolic demand. While the cardiac effects of cyanide are well known, the cerebral effects on cellular function are less well described. We investigated cerebral metabolism with a combination of brain respirometry, microdialysis, and western blotting using a rodent model of sub-lethal cyanide poisoning. Methods: Twenty rodents were divided into two groups: control (n = 10) and sub-lethal cyanide (n = 10). Cerebral microdialysis was performed during a 2 mg/kg/h cyanide exposure to obtain real-time measurements of cerebral metabolic status. At the end of the exposure (90 min), brain-isolated mitochondria were measured for mitochondrial respiration. Brain tissue ATP concentrations, acyl-Coenzyme A thioesters, and mitochondrial content were also measured. Results: The cyanide group showed significantly increased lactate and decreased hypotension with decreased cerebral CIV-linked mitochondrial respiration. There was also a significant decrease in cerebral ATP concentration in the cyanide group and a significantly higher cerebral lactate-to-pyruvate ratio (LPR). In addition, we also found decreased expression of Complex III and IV protein expression in brain tissue from the cyanide group. Finally, there was no change in acyl-coenzyme A thioesters between the two groups. Conclusions: The key finding demonstrates mitochondrial dysfunction in brain tissue that corresponds with a decrease in mitochondrial function, ATP concentrations, and an elevated LPR indicating brain dysfunction at a sub-lethal dose of cyanide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-204
JournalJournal of Medical Toxicology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pharmacology and Toxicology

Free keywords

  • Basic science
  • Cerebral metabolism
  • Cyanide
  • Mitochondria


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