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Clin Exp Metastasis. 1999;17(7):567-74.

Growth-associated changes in glutathione content correlate with liver metastatic activity of B16 melanoma cells.

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Dpto. FisiologĂ­a, Univ. Valencia, Fac. Medicina, Spain.


B16 melanoma (B16M) was used to study the relationship between glutathione (GSH) metabolism and the metastatic activity of malignant cells. GSH content increased in B16M cells during the initial period of exponential growth in vitro, to reach a maximum of 37 +/- 3 nmol/10(6) cells 12 h after plating, and then gradually decreased to control values (10 +/- 2 nmol/10(6) cells) when cultures approached confluency. On the contrary, glutathione disulphide (GSSG) levels (0.5 +/- 0.2 nmol/10(6) cells) and the rate of glutathione efflux (GSH + GSSG) (2.5 +/- 0.4 nmol/10(6) cells per h) remained constant as B16M grew. Changes in enzyme activities involved in GSH synthesis or the glutathione redox cycle did not explain shifts in the glutathione status (GSH/GSSG). However, two facts contributed to explain why GSH levels changed within B16M cells: a) high intracellular levels of GSH induced a feed-back inhibition of its own synthesis in B16M cells from cultures with low cellular density (LD cells); b) transport of cyst(e)ine, whose availability is the major rate-limiting step for GSH synthesis, was limited by cell-cell contact in cultures with high cellular density (HD cells). Intrasplenic injection of B16M cells with high GSH content (exponentially-growing cultures) showed higher metastatic activity in the liver than cells with low GSH content (cells at confluency). However, when low GSH-content cells (HD cells) were incubated in the presence of GSH ester, which rapidly enters the cell and delivers free GSH, their metastatic activity significantly increased. Our results demonstrate that changes in GSH content regulate the metastatic behaviour of B16M cells.

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