Glutathione (GSH) plays an essential role in the detoxification of acetaminophen (APAP) and the prevention of APAP-induced toxicity in the kidney. Our previous results demonstrated that a GSH deficiency is a general property of aging tissues, including the kidney, suggesting a hypothesis that senescent organisms are at greater risk to APAP-induced renal damage. To test this, C57BL/6NIA mice of different ages through the life span were injected with various doses of APAP, and the extent of GSH and cysteine (Cys) depletion and recovery were determined. At time intervals up to 24 hr, kidney cortex samples were obtained, processed and analyzed for glutathione status, namely GSH, glutathione disulfide (GSSG), Cys and cystine, using an HPLC method with dual electrochemical detection. In the uninjected controls, GSH and Cys concentrations decreased about 30% in the aging mouse, but the GSSG and cystine levels were unchanged during the life span. APAP administration depleted the kidney GSH and Cys contents in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Four hours after APAP administration, GSH levels of the young, growing (3- to 6-month) and the mature (12-month) mice decreased 34 and 58%, respectively, and recovered to near control values by 24 hr (95 and 98%). In contrast, the extent of depletion in old (31-month) mice was greater (64%) and the 24-hr recovery was less, returning only to 56%. Likewise, Cys levels of the young and mature mice decreased 49 and 65%, respectively, 4hr following APAP, and increased to 99 and 85% by 24 hr. In contrast, in old mice, there was a 78% depletion after 4 hr followed by a recovery of only 65% by 24 hr. These results demonstrated clearly that in the aging mouse kidney, a GSH and Cys deficiency occurs that is accompanied by an impaired APAP detoxification capacity.
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