The protection by ascorbate and glutathione against microsomal lipid peroxidation is dependent on vitamin E


Correspondence to H. Sies, Institut für Physiologische Chemie I, Universität Düsseldorf, Moorenstraße 5, D-4000 Düsseldorf 1, Federal Republic of Germany


Lipid peroxidation of rat liver microsomal fractions was monitored by its low-level chemilunminescence in preparations from controls and vitamin-E-deficient animals. Measurements were made (a) of the duration of the lag phase τ0 after initiation with NADPH/iron-ADP and (b) of the slope of the chemiluminescence increase.

In microsomes with normal vitamin E (α-tocopherol) level the lag phase τ0 was substantially increased by ascorbate; in contrast, even an enhanced peroxidation was observed with ascorbate in vitamin-E-deficient microsomes. Therefore, the ascorbate-mediated protection of microsomal membranes against lipid peroxidation is dependent on vitamin E in the membrane. In vitamin E deficiency the pro-oxidant effect of ascorbate was abolished when glutathione (GSH) was present.

Likewise, GSH does not prolong the lag phase τ0 in vitamin E deficiency. However, GSH (but not cysteine) exerts an antioxidant effect both in controls and in vitamin E deficiency by decreasing the slope of the chemiluminescence increase during lipid peroxidation. The involvement of GSH in an enzyme-dependent mechanism is suggested.