Zinc-mediated toxicity has been linked to cellular glutathione content in isolated cells. In addition, treatment of alveolar epithelial type II cells with glucocorticoids diminishes cellular glutathione content, and this is followed by an increase in zinc-mediated toxicity. The question arises whether an increase in glutathione synthesis might decrease zinc-mediated toxicity. For this purpose an administration of 200 μmol/l N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) was given to the cells, while cysteine was used up to 100 μmol/l. Zinc-mediated toxicity was assessed by measuring protein synthesis inhibition and glutathione dependent parameters. De novo synthesis of glutathione was assessed as compared to controls by N-acetyl-d-cysteine (NADC) treatment. Comparing NAC and NADC treatment no differences in zinc-mediated toxicity were found. Furthermore only in one (of three) cell line tested a significant increase in GSH content by NAC as compared to NADC treatment was achieved. But even in this cell line no changes by zinc-mediated toxicity were found. It is concluded that the cell lines tested can use other sources of cys for glutathione synthesis. Furthermore the increased zinc-mediated toxicity due to hydrocortisone was abolished in the alveolar epithelial cell lines by the NADC/NAC treatment. It is therefore discussed that additionally to glutathione some other antioxidative defence mechanisms can influence zinc-mediated toxicity as well. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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