Only the glutathione dependent antioxidant enzymes are inhibited by haematotoxic hydroxylamines.

A.A.M.G. Spooren, C.T.A. Evelo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Department of Pharmacology, Universiteit Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Hydroxylamine and some of its derivatives are known to cause oxidative effects both in vitro and in vivo. In the current study we investigated the effects of hydroxylamines on the enzymatic antioxidant defense system in human erythrocytes. The activity of catalase and superoxide dismutase was not significantly influenced by any of the hydroxylamines tested. However, the activity of glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and glutathione S-transferase (GST) was strongly inhibited by hydroxylamine and its O-derivatives (O-methyl and O-ethyl hydroxylamine). GPX was also inhibited by two N-derivatives of hydroxylamine (i.e. N-dimethyl and N,O-dimethyl hydroxylamine). This indicates that exposure to hydroxylamines not only changes the cellular oxidation-reduction status but also leads to inhibition of the glutathione dependent antioxidant enzymes. GST as well as GPX have cysteine residues at the active site of the enzymes. Such an accessible thiol group is generally susceptible to formation of protein-mixed disulphides or intramolecular disulphides. If these thiol groups are essential for activity this would be accompanied by an increase or decrease in the enzyme activity. In principle this is also true for glutathione reductase (GR), which in this study was only inhibited by N,O-dimethyl and N-methyl hydroxylamines. However, GR is capable to reduce these disulphides by taking up two electrons, either from its substrate NAPDH or from another reductant. Oxidation of these thiol groups in GR would thus not lead to impairment of GR activity. The fact that NODMH and NMH do decrease the GR activity can therefore only be explained by other modifications. The activity loss of GST and GPX on the other hand, is likely to involve oxidation of critical cysteine residues. The practical consequence of these findings is that the cellular prooxidant state that may arise in erythrocytes exposed to hydroxylamines can be further increased by activity loss of protective enzymes, which may decrease the average life span of the red blood cell.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-559
Number of pages6
JournalHuman & Experimental Toxicology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998

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