Glutathione synthesis and turnover in the human erythrocyte

Alignment of a model based on detailed enzyme kinetics with experimental data

Julia E. Raftos, Stephney Whillier, Philip W. Kuchel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Citations (Scopus)


The erythrocyte is exposed to reactive oxygen species in the circulation and also to those produced by autoxidation of hemoglobin. Consequently, erythrocytes depend on protection by the antioxidant glutathione. Mathematical models based on realistic kinetic data have provided valuable insights into the regulation of biochemical pathways within the erythrocyte but none have satisfactorily accounted for glutathione metabolism. In the current model, rate equations were derived for the enzyme-catalyzed reactions, and for each equation the nonlinear algebraic relationship between the steady-state kinetic parameters and the unitary rate constants was derived. The model also includes the transport processes that supply the amino acid constituents of glutathione and the export of oxidized glutathione. Values of the kinetic parameters for the individual reactions were measured predominately using isolated enzymes under conditions that differed from the intracellular environment. By comparing the experimental and simulated results, the values of the enzyme-kinetic parameters of the model were refined to yield conformity between model simulations and experimental data. Model output accurately represented the steady-state concentrations of metabolites in erythrocytes suspended in plasma and the changing glutathione concentrations in whole and hemolyzed erythrocytes under specific experimental conditions. Analysis indicated that feedback inhibition of γ-glutamate-cysteine ligase by glutathione had a limited effect on steady-state glutathione concentrations and was not sufficiently potent to return glutathione concentrations to normal levels in erythrocytes exposed to sustained increases in oxidative load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23557-23567
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2010

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