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Mutat Res. 1992 Mar;281(3):157-61.

Differential effect of the amino acid cystine in cultured mammalian and bacterial cells exposed to oxidative stress.

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Istituto di Scienze Tossicologiche, Igienistiche e Ambientali, Università di Urbino, Italy.


The effect of cystine in the cytotoxic response of cultured Chinese hamster ovary and Escherichia coli cells to challenge with hydrogen peroxide has been investigated. It was found that this amino acid could either protect or sensitize cells, depending on the cellular system. In fact, although a reduction in the growth-inhibitory effect of hydrogen peroxide was observed in mammalian cells, a marked increase in the susceptibility to oxidative stress was induced by cystine in bacteria. None of the amino acid precursors of glutathione, e.g., glutamate, glycine or cysteine, afforded protection in the mammalian cell system, whereas cysteine, but not glycine or glutamate, markedly sensitized bacteria to hydrogen peroxide-induced cell killing. In mammalian cells, methionine, an amino acid which is converted to cysteine, was also unable to modify the oxidative response. The results presented indicate that cystine displays differential effects in oxidatively injured mammalian or bacterial cells and suggest that the mechanism whereby the amino acid modulates the lethal action of hydrogen peroxide differs in the two cellular systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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