The role of mitochondrial glutathione in DNA base oxidation

Cecilia R Giulivi, Enrique Cadenas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to elucidate the role of mitochondrial GSH in the reactions leading to mitochondrial DNA oxidative damage in terms of 8-hydroxy-desoxyguanosine (8-HOdG) accumulation. With this purpose, tightly coupled mitochondria depleted of matrix GSH were used and the effects of H2O2 (generated during the oxidation of substrates) on 8-HOdG levels were investigated. Mitochondrial integrity, assessed by O2 uptake, respiratory control and P/O ratios, was conserved upon depletion of GSH up to 95%. The rates of H2O2 production linked to the oxidation of endogenous substrates by control and GSH-depleted mitochondria were similar. Succinate (in the absence or presence of antimycin A) enhanced the rate H2O2 production to a similar extent in both control and GSH-depleted mitochondria. These rates of H2O2 production accounted for 1.5-2.5% of the rate of O2 uptake. The levels of 8-HOdG in GSH-depleted mitochondria were 35-50% lower than those in control mitochondria, when measured at different H2O2 production rates. Conversely, in experiments carried out with calf thymus DNA with different Cu/Fe content, GSH increased 1.4-2.4-fold the accumulation of 8-HOdG. These values were further enhanced (44-50%) by superoxide dismutase and decreased by catalase. The lower levels of 8-HOdG in GSH-depleted mitochondria and the higher levels in GSH-supplemented calf thymus DNA suggest a role for the non-protein thiol in the reactions leading to mtDNA oxidative damage. These findings are interpreted in terms of the redox transitions involving O2, GSH, and metal catalysts bound to DNA. A mechanism is proposed by which GSH plays a critical role in the reduction of DNA-Cu complexes and decays by free radical pathways kinetically regulated by superoxide dismutase. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-274
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 7 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • 8-Hydroxy-desoxyguanosine
  • Glutathione
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Mitochondria
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics

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