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Biochem Pharmacol. 1989 Mar 1;38(5):795-802.

Oxidative and mitochondrial toxic effects of cephalosporin antibiotics in the kidney. A comparative study of cephaloridine and cephaloglycin.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, School of Medicine, CA 94305.


Cephaloridine and cephaloglycin are the two most nephrotoxic cephalosporins released for human use. Cephaloridine has been shown to produce both oxidative and mitochondrial respiratory injury in renal cortex in patterns of dose (or concentration) and time that are consistent with pathogenicity. Cephaloglycin also produces respiratory toxicity, and recent studies have provided evidence that this injury results from an inactivation of mitochondrial anionic substrate transporters. The abilities of cephaloglycin to produce oxidative changes and cephaloridine to block mitochondrial substrate uptake have not been examined yet. We therefore compared these two cephalosporins with one another and with cephalexin, which is not nephrotoxic, in the production of the following: (1) several components of oxidative stress or damage [depletion of reduced glutathione (GSH) and production of oxidized glutathione (GSSG) in renal cortex, inhibition of glutathione reductase in vitro, and production of the lipid peroxidation products malondialdehyde (MDA) and conjugated dienes (CDs) in renal cortex]; and (2) renal cortical mitochondrial toxicity [to both respiration with, and the transport of, succinate]. Cephaloridine depleted GSH and elevated GSSG in renal cortex, inhibited glutathione reductase, and increased both MDA in whole cortex and CDs in cortical microsomes and mitochondria. While cephaloglycin depleted GSH at least as much as did cephaloridine, it produced one-fifth as much GSSG and had little or no effect on glutathione reductase activity or on cortical MDA or microsomal CDs; cephaloglycin caused a transient small increase of mitochondrial CDs. Cephalexin produced no oxidative changes except for a slight increase of mitochondrial CDs comparable to that produced by cephaloglycin. Both cephaloridine and cephaloglycin, but not cephalexin, decreased the unidirectional uptake of, and respiration with, succinate in cortical mitochondria. We conclude that cephaloridine and cephaloglycin are both toxic to mitochondrial substrate uptake and respiration, but differ significantly in their generation of products of oxidation.

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