Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

The role of glutathione reductase in maintaining human granulocyte function and sensitivity to exogenous H2O2

  1. HJ Cohen,
  2. EH Tape,
  3. J Novak,
  4. ME Chovaniec,
  5. P Liegey, and
  6. JC Whitin


Human granulocytes (polymorphonuclear leukocytes, PMN) produce H2O2 and other reactive oxygen species while undergoing phagocytosis. To examine the role of the glutathione cycle in metabolizing H2O2, we incubated PMN with 1,3-bis (2-chloroethyl) nitrosourea (BCNU). Incubation of PMN with BCNU results in a dose-dependent inhibition of PMN glutathione reductase (GRED), with 50% inhibition occurring at approximately 2 micrograms/mL BCNU. PMN hexose monophosphate shunt activity stimulated with an exogenous H2O2-generating system was inhibited only when the GRED activity was reduced to less than 30% of control. BCNU-treated cells contained lower levels of reduced sulfhydryls and reduced glutathione, which decreased even more in the presence of an exogenous H2O2-generating system. The effect of BCNU and exogenous H2O2 on various aspects of phagocytosis were examined. Exposure of BCNU-treated PMN to an H2O2-generating system resulted in an inhibition of chemotactic peptide-induced shape changes and degranulation. The ability of BCNU-treated cells to produce O2- was diminished only when the PMN were incubated with an H2O2-generating system in the presence of cyanide. Ingestion of opsonized bacteria by BCNU-treated PMN was unaffected by incubation in an H2O2-generating system even in the presence of cyanide. We conclude that PMN GRED is inhibited by BCNU, the ability of PMN to metabolize H2O2 is affected only when GRED is reduced more than 70%, this inhibition affects the glutathione content of these cells, and some, but not all of the phagocytic functions of GRED-inhibited PMN are inhibited after exposure to an H2O2-generating system.