Importance of catalase in the disposal of hydrogen peroxide within human erythrocytes

Blood. 1994 Jul 1;84(1):325-30.


The catalase within normal, intact human erythrocytes was completely inactivated with amino triazole. The rate of 14CO2 evolution, when the cells were subsequently incubated with 14C-labeled glucose, provided a measure of the rate at which NADPH was being oxidized by the glutathione peroxidase/reductase system for the disposal of H2O2. This rate was determined in control cells and in catalase-inactivated cells while the cells were exposed to H2O2, which was generated at various constant and predetermined rates by glucose oxidase. The results indicated that catalase handles approximately half of the generated H2O2. The glutathione peroxidase/reductase mechanism accounted for the other half. These results are in agreement with our earlier findings on erythrocytes of a subject with a genetic deficiency of catalase. However, an unexpected result with the present approach was the finding that the increased dependence on the glutathione peroxidase/reductase mechanism did not occur until greater than 98% of the catalase had been inactivated. The latter observation indicates that catalase and the glutathione peroxidase/reductase system function intracellularly in a manner very different from that previously ascribed to them. An explanation of the findings requires that the two methods of H2O2 disposal function in a coordinated way, such as a sequential action in which the glutathione peroxidase/reductase system is the rate-limiting step.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catalase / physiology*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism*
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Pentose Phosphate Pathway


  • NADP
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Catalase