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Brain Res. 1996 Apr 15;716(1-2):118-22.

Depletion of brain glutathione results in a decrease of glutathione reductase activity; an enzyme susceptible to oxidative damage.

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  • 1Department of Neurochemistry, Institute of Neurology, London, UK.


Loss of the intracellular antioxidant glutathione (GSH) from the substantia nigra is considered to be an early event in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). While the cause of the loss is unclear, an imbalance in the enzymes associated with the synthesis, utilisation, degradation and translocation of GSH has been implicated. The enzyme glutathione reductase is also important in GSH homeostasis: it regenerates GSH from the oxidised from (GSSG). However, to date the activity and regulation of glutathione reductase in conditions such as PD have not been explored. In view of this we have measured the effects of GSH depletion on glutathione reductase activity of the rat brain. Other glutathione related enzymes were also measured. Using pre-weanling rats, brain GSH was depleted by up to 60% by subcutaneous administration of L-buthionine sulfoximine. The only enzyme affected by GSH depletion was glutathione reductase; its activity being reduced by approximately 40%. As GSH inactivates a number of oxidising species including peroxynitrite (ONOO-), we additionally investigated the susceptibility of glutathione reductase to ONOO- in vitro, using purified enzyme. ONOO- decreased glutathione reductase activity in a concentration dependent manner with an apparent 50% inhibition occurring at an initial concentration of 0.09 mM. These data suggest that GSH is important in the maintenance glutathione reductase activity. This may arise in part from its ability to inactivate oxidising agents such as ONOO-.

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