The role of reduced glutathione in relation to hexose monophosphate shunt activity and peroxide detoxification has been well established in human erythrocytes. Less is known about the content of reduced glutathione in phagocytic leukocytes and the changes that occur during functional activity. We have measured the reduced sulfhydryl content of normal resting human granulocytes and of cells isolated from a patient with chronic granulomatous disease. Normal cells and those from the patient with chronic granulomatous disease contained similar concentrations of reduced sulfhydryls. Stimulation of a phagocytic response by incubation with opsonized zymosan particles resulted in prompt and nearly complete depletion of intracellular glutathione from normal granulocytes. This fall in reduced glutathione concentration was dependent on the phagocytic load. Exposure of chronic granulomatous disease granulocytes to a similar phagocytic load resulted in a slower and less complete fall in reduced glutathione. In normal cells, those from the chronic granulomatous disease patient, and those from an obligate carrier of the disease, the decrement in reduced glutathione during phagocytosis was correlated with oxidation of 14C-1-glucose and 14C-formate, nitroblue tetrazolium reduction, and the chemiluminescence phenomenon.

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