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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 May;87(9):3343-7.

Glutathione regulates activation-dependent DNA synthesis in highly purified normal human T lymphocytes stimulated via the CD2 and CD3 antigens.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Rogosin Institute, Cornell University Medical College, New York, NY 10021.


Regulation of proliferation of normal human T lymphocytes (T cells) by glutathione (GSH) was explored with T-cell activation models that do not require accessory cell signals. L-Buthionine-(S,R)-sulfoximine (BSO), which inactivates gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase and therefore inhibits GSH synthesis, inhibited proliferation elicited by monoclonal antibodies directed at cluster designation 2 (CD2) and CD3 antigens, or by sn-1,2-dioctanoylglycerol and ionomycin. L-Buthionine-(R)-sulfoximine, which does not inactivate gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase, did not affect proliferation. BSO-induced inhibition of accessory cell-independent T-cell proliferation was not reversed by recombinant human interleukin 2, despite activation-dependent expression of interleukin 2 receptor alpha by T cells treated with BSO. However, BSO-associated inhibition of T-cell proliferation was reversed by GSH or GSH ester. These studies, which show that GSH can directly modulate proliferation of highly purified T cells, suggest that GSH is essential for steps close to or at DNA synthesis. The availability of methods for decreasing and for increasing GSH levels suggest therapies to produce (i) immunosuppression (of value in organ transplantation), and (ii) immunopotentiation (of potential value in treatment of immunodeficiency states such as AIDS).

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