It has been shown that certain dogs have erythrocytes characterized by an inherited high concentration of reduced glutathione (GSH), five to seven times the normal level (high-GSH RBCs). We examined whether increased GSH in dog erythrocytes leads to increased protection against oxidative damage induced by acetylphenylhydrazine (APH) and/or 4- aminophenyl disulfide (4-AD). When erythrocytes were incubated with 30 mmol/L APH, the Heinz body count was appreciably higher in normal RBCs than in high-GSH RBCs, while there was no difference in the increase of the methemoglobin (metHb) concentration in both RBCs. In contrast, both the Heinz body count and metHb production were much higher in high-GSH RBCs than in normal RBCs when erythrocytes were incubated with 4-AD. Furthermore, the generation of the superoxide in erythrocytes treated with 4-AD, which was measured by spin trapping combined with electron spin resonance (ESR), was obviously higher in high-GSH RBCs than in normal RBCs. These results clearly indicate that erythrocyte GSH is an important defense against oxidative damage induced by certain compounds such as APH, but that, in contrast, elevated GSH appears to accelerate oxidative damage to erythrocytes produced by aromatic disulfides, such as 4-AD, which generated a superoxide in erythrocytes via its redox reaction with GSH.

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