Quantitative Histochemistry of Cytochrome Oxidase Activity

Theory, Methods, and Regional Brain Vulnerability
  • F. Gonzalez-Lima
  • A. Cada


This chapter explains the theory and methods for the mapping of cytochrome oxidase activity in the brain using quantitative histochemistry. Cytochrome oxidase catalyzes the electron transfer from cytochrome c to oxygen in all higher forms of living organisms. cytochrome oxidase activity can be measured histochemically using diaminobenzidine as the electron donor to reduce cytochrome c. This histochemical reaction is performed in fresh-frozen brains under conditions of linearity, using internal activity standards and quantitative densitometry, to allow quantification of enzymatic activity units. During cellular respiration, this reaction is necessary for ATP synthesis because of its coupling with oxidative phosphorylation. Cytochrome oxidase is critically important to neurons because they depend on oxidative metabolism for energy production. This chapter also reviews the regional brain effects of cytochrome oxidase inhibition. Enhanced vulnerability to cytochrome oxidase inhibition is found in brain regions most often engaged in associative memory functions. It is proposed that this vulnerability may depend on the sustained neuronal metabolic demands that long-term learning and memory imposes on these regions.


Cytochrome Oxidase Sodium Ascorbate Cytochrome Oxidase Activity Histochemical Procedure Reaction Product Formation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Gonzalez-Lima
    • 1
  • A. Cada
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Neuroscience and Department of PsychologyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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