Glutathione and glutathione peroxidase in sputum samples of adult patients with cystic fibrosis

J Cyst Fibros. 2004 Jun;3(2):119-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2004.03.005.


Background: Reduced glutathione (GSH) is a major antioxidant in the lung. In cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, extracellular GSH levels of lower airways, obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), were reported to be lower than non-CF individuals.

Methods: Upper airway secretions of stable adult CF patients (29 spontaneous and 13 induced sputum) and non-CF individuals (14 healthy and 12 asthmatics; all induced sputum) were analyzed for total glutathione (i.e. the sum of reduced, GSH, and oxidized, GSSG, forms), GSH and GSSG levels by enzymatic kinetic assay.

Results: In CF, both spontaneous and induced sputum samples were comparable in total glutathione levels which were surprisingly high (median concentration of 9.2 (range 1.4-65.2) and 11.6 (1.1-69.8) microM, respectively). In non-CF individuals, total glutathione levels were significantly lower (healthy 2.8 (1.0-12.3), asthmatics (5.3 (1.3-19.2) microM; p<0.001, both vs. CF). In CF, more than 90% of total glutathione was represented by GSH, whereas in non-CF controls, GSH made up less than 50% of total glutathione (p<0.001).

Conclusions: In contrast to BAL, CF sputum contains high levels of GSH. Sputum induction is a potentially useful procedure to monitor antioxidant levels in upper airways of CF patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cystic Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Sputum / enzymology


  • Antioxidants
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Glutathione