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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of monocrotaline, a pyrrolizidine alkaloid, on glutathione metabolism in the rat.

Monocrotaline (MONO), a pyrrolizidine alkaloid, causes veno-occlusive disease of the liver, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and right ventricular hypertrophy. Toxicity is due to the hepatic formation of a pyrolic metabolite that can be detoxified by conjugation with glutathione (GSH). We have shown that the GSH content of the liver affects the quantity of the pyrrolic metabolite that is released from the liver. We have now examined whether MONO, in turn, affects GSH metabolism. Twenty-four hours after administration of MONO to rats (65 mg/kg, i.p.), the highest concentration of bound pyrrolic metabolites was found in the liver, followed by the lung and kidney. Heart and brain contained lower concentrations of these metabolites. Significantly higher levels of GSH were found in liver and lungs of MONO-treated rats than in saline-injected control animals. In the liver, activities of the following enzymes were elevated: gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase, GSH synthetase, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, dipeptidase, and microsomal GSH transferase. The same changes were seen in the lung. In the heart, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase activity was decreased markedly, and cytosolic GSH transferase activity was elevated. In the kidney, the activities of GSH synthetase, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, and cytosolic GSH transferase were increased. Our results establish a mutual interaction of MONO and sulfur metabolism. It appears that an early metabolic action of MONO is to modify sulfur amino acid metabolism, diverting cysteine metabolism from oxidation to taurine towards synthesis of GSH.[1]


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