• Astrocytes in culture;
  • Neurons in culture;
  • Glutathione;
  • Glutathione disulfide;
  • Ascorbate;
  • Vitamin E;
  • Fatty acids;
  • γ-Glutamylcysteine synthetase;
  • Glutathione synthetase;
  • -γ-Glutamyltranspeptidase;
  • γ-Glutamylcyclo transferase;
  • Glutathione S-transferase;
  • Glutathione peroxidase;
  • Glutathione reducotase

Abstract: GSH, GSSG, vitamin E, and ascorbate were measured in 14-day cultures of chick astrocytes and neurons and compared with levels in the forebrains of chick embryos of comparable age. Activities of enzymes involved in GSH metabolism were also measured. These included -γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase, GSH synthetase, γ-glutamyl cyclotransferase, γ-glutamyltranspeptidase, glutathione transferase (GST), GSH peroxidase, and GSSG reductase. The concentration of lipid-soluble vitamin E in the cultured neurons was found to be comparable with that in the forebrain. On the other hand, the concentration of vitamin E in the astrocytes was significantly greater in the cultured astrocytes than in the neurons, suggesting that the astrocytes are able to accumulate exogenous vitamin E more extensively than neurons. The concentrations of major fatty acids were higher in the cell membranes of cultured neurons than those in the astrocytes. Ascorbate was not detected in cultured cells although the chick forebrains contained appreciable levels of this antioxidant. GSH, total glutathione (i.e., GSH and GSSG), and GST activity were much higher in cultured astrocytes than in neurons. γ-Glutamylcysteine synthetase activity was higher in the cultured astrocytes than in the cultured neurons. GSH reductase and GSH peroxidase activities were roughly comparable in cultured astrocytes and neurons. The high levels of GSH and GST in cultured astrocytes appears to reflect the situation in vivo. The data suggest that astrocytes are resistant to reactive oxygen species (and potentially toxic xenobiotics) and may play a protective role in the brain. Because enzymes of GSH metabolism are generally well represented in cultured astrocytes and neurons these cells may be ideally suited as probes for manipulating GSH levels in neural tissues in vitro. Cultured astrocytes and neurons should be amenable to the study of the effects of various metabolic insults on the GSH system. Such studies may provide insights into the design of therapeutic strategies to combat oxidative and xenobiotic stresses.