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Biochem Pharmacol. 1982 Oct 1;31(19):3093-100.

Inhibition of the enzymes of glutathione metabolism by mercuric chloride in the rat kidney: reversal by selenium.


The treatment of rats with 10 mumoles/kg (s.c.) of mercuric chloride (Hg2+) caused time-dependent decreases in the activities of the enzymes of the glutathione (GSH) metabolism pathway in the kidney. Twenty-four hours after administration of Hg2+, the activities of gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase and glutathione disulfide (GSSG)-reductase in the kidney were decreased by 50-60%, and the activities of the GSH catabolic enzymes, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase and GSH-peroxidase, were decreased by 25-35%. In the liver, only the activity of GSSG-reductase was decreased at this time. The observed decreases in the enzyme activities were not accompanied by a depression in the cellular protein concentration. The same pattern of enzyme response was noted when rats were given 30 mumoles/kg Hg2+; however, the decreases in the specific activity of the enzymes were accompanied by great losses in the cellular protein concentrations in both the liver and the kidney (35-40%). This dose of Hg2+ also caused significant decreases in the concentration of GSH in both organs. In vitro, Hg2+ only inhibited the activity of GSSG-reductase. When rats were given sodium selenite (Na2SeO3; 5, 10 or 20 mumoles/kg, s.c.) 30 min after Hg2+ treatment (10 mumoles/kg), the Hg2+-related depressions in the activities of the enzymes of GSH metabolism in the liver and the kidney were blocked. Also, in rats treated with 30 mumoles/kg Hg2+, the administration of 10 mumoles/kg selenium significantly decreased the magnitude of depression in the concentration of GSH in the kidney.

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