Enzymatic defenses of the mouse heart against reactive oxygen metabolites: alterations produced by doxorubicin

J Clin Invest. 1980 Jan;65(1):128-35. doi: 10.1172/JCI109642.


The endogenous defenses of the mouse heart against reactive oxygen metabolites were investigated. The activities of three enzymes capable of detoxifying activated oxygen were determined in both the heart and liver; cardiac muscle contains 150 times less catalase and nearly four times less superoxide dismutase than liver. Glutathione peroxidase activities were, however, similar to the two tissues. Assay of glutathione peroxidase in the heart after 6 wk of selenium depletion with both hydrogen peroxide and cumene hydroperoxide as substrates revealed a >80% drop in enzyme activity and gave no indication that murine cardiac tissue contains nonselenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase. The selenium-deficient state, which was characterized by markedly decreased cardiac glutathione peroxidase levels, led to significantly enhanced doxorubicin toxicity at a dose of 15 mg/kg i.p. Doxorubicin administration in selenium-sufficient animals resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in cardiac glutathione peroxidase activity; the decrease in enzyme activity lasted 72 h after 15 mg/kg i.p. In contrast, cardiac superoxide dismutase and hepatic superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase were unaffected by this dose of doxorubicin. These results suggest that the major pathway in cardiac tissue for detoxification of reactive oxygen metabolites is via the concerted action of superoxide dismutase and selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase. The latter enzyme may be depleted by a selenium-deficient diet or doxorubicin treatment, leaving the heart with limited mechanisms for disposing of hydrogen peroxide or lipid peroxides.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Doxorubicin / metabolism
  • Doxorubicin / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Free Radicals
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Selenium / pharmacology
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Free Radicals
  • Doxorubicin
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Selenium
  • Oxygen