The influence of heroin abuse on glutathione-dependent enzymes in human brain.

Summary of "The influence of heroin abuse on glutathione-dependent enzymes in human brain."

Heroin is an illicit narcotic abused by millions of people worldwide. In our earlier studies we have shown that heroin intoxication changes the antioxidant status in human brain. In the present work we continued our studies by estimating the effect of heroin abuse on reduced glutathione (GSH) and enzymes related to this cofactor, such as glutathione S-transferase detoxifying electrophilics (GST) and organic peroxides (as Se-independent glutathione peroxidase-GSHPx), and Se-dependent glutathione peroxidase (Se-GSHPx) specific mainly for hydrogen peroxide. Studies were conducted on human brains obtained from autopsy of 9 heroin abusers and 8 controls. The level of GSH and the activity of glutathione-related enzymes were determined spectrophotometrically. The expression of GST pi on mRNA and protein level was studied by RT-PCR and Western blotting, respectively. The results indicated significant increase of GST and GSHPx activities, unchanged Se-GSHPx activity, and decreased level of GSH in frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital cortex, brain stem, hippocampus, and white matter of heroin abusers. GST pi expression was increased on both mRNA and protein levels, however the increase was lower in brain stem than in other regions. Heroin affects all regions of human brain, and especially brain stem. Its intoxication leads to an increase of organic rather then inorganic peroxides in various brain regions. Glutathione S-transferase plays an important role during heroin intoxication, however its protective effect is lower in brain stem than in brain cortex or hippocampus.


Department of Biochemistry, Medical University of Warsaw, Banacha 1, 02-097 Warsaw, Poland.

Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Drug and alcohol dependence
ISSN: 1879-0046


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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

One of the enzymes active in the gamma-glutamyl cycle. It catalyzes the synthesis of glutathione from gamma-glutamylcysteine and glycine in the presence of ATP with the formation of ADP and orthophosphate. EC

Catalyzes the oxidation of GLUTATHIONE to GLUTATHIONE DISULFIDE in the presence of NADP+. Deficiency in the enzyme is associated with HEMOLYTIC ANEMIA. Formerly listed as EC

An enzyme catalyzing the oxidation of 2 moles of glutathione in the presence of hydrogen peroxide to yield oxidized glutathione and water. EC

Strong dependence, both physiological and emotional, upon heroin.

A glutathione transferase that catalyzes the conjugation of electrophilic substrates to GLUTATHIONE. This enzyme has been shown to provide cellular protection against redox-mediated damage by FREE RADICALS.

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