Antioxidant Effects of N-acetylcysteine and Succimer in Red Blood Cells from Lead-exposed Rats


This study examined whether lead-induced alterations in selected parameters that are indicative of oxidative stress accompany the toxic effects of lead in red blood cells (RBCs) in vivo. It also explored the possibility that treatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) or succimer (meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid) was capable of reversing parameters indicative of lead-induced oxidative stress. Fisher 344 rats were given 2000 ppm lead acetate in their drinking water for 5 weeks. The lead was then removed and the animals were given NAC (800 mg/kg/day) or succimer (90 mg/kg/day) in their drinking water for 1 week, after which the RBCs were harvested. Animals not given lead and those given lead, but not NAC or succimer, served as negative and positive controls, respectively. At the end of the experiment, blood-lead levels were 35±4 μg/dl in lead-treated animals, which were reduced to 2.5±1 μg/dl by treatment with succimer and to 25±3 μg/dl by treatment with NAC. Lead-exposed animals demonstrated signs of anemia as evidenced by anisocytosis, poikilocytosis, and alterations in hemoglobin, hematocrit, and mean corpuscular volume. Lipid peroxidation, as evidenced by increased malondialdehyde (MDA) content, as well as decreases in reduced glutathione (GSH) and increases in catalase and glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) activity were noted in RBCs from lead-treated rats, suggesting that the lead induced oxidative stress. In addition, a significant reduction in blood δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD) activity suggested that accumulation and autooxidation of δ-aminolevulinic acid might contribute to lead-induced oxidative stress. Treatment with either NAC or succimer reversed lead-induced alterations in MDA and GSH content, but only succimer appeared to partially restore ALAD activity. These results provide in vivo evidence supporting the hypothesis that lead induces oxidative stress in RBCs, which is reversible by treatment with a thiol antioxidant (NAC), as well as a chelating agent (succimer).



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© 1998 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

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01 Jul 1998