Assessment of endoplasmic reticulum glutathione redox status is confounded by extensive ex vivo oxidation

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2008 May;10(5):963-72. doi: 10.1089/ars.2007.1869.


Glutathione (GSH) and glutathione disulfide (GSSG) form the principal thiol redox couple in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER); however, few studies have attempted to quantify GSH redox status in this organelle. To address this gap, GSH and GSSG levels and the extent of protein glutathionylation were analyzed in rat liver microsomes. Because of the likelihood of artifactual GSH oxidation during the lengthy microsomal isolation procedure, iodoacetic acid (IAA) was used to preserve the physiological thiol redox state. Non-IAA-treated microsomes exhibited a GSH:GSSG ratio between 0.7:1 to 1.2:1 compared to IAA-treated microsomes that yielded a GSH:GSSG redox ratio between 4.7:1 and 5.5:1. The majority of artifactual oxidation occurred within the first 2 h of isolation. Thus, the ER GSH redox ratio is subject to extensive ex vivo oxidation and when controlled, the microsomal GSH redox state is significantly higher than previously believed. Moreover, in vitro studies showed that PDI reductase activity was markedly increased at this higher thiol redox ratio versus previously reported GSH:GSSG ratios for the ER. Lastly, we show by both HPLC and Western blot analysis that ER proteins are highly resistant to glutathionylation. Together, these results may necessitate a re-evaluation of GSH and its role in ER function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Glutathione Disulfide / metabolism
  • Iodoacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Microsomes, Liver / chemistry
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide
  • Iodoacetic Acid