Uric acid and glutathione levels during short-term whole body cold exposure

Free Radic Biol Med. 1994 Mar;16(3):299-305. doi: 10.1016/0891-5849(94)90030-2.


Ten healthy subjects who swim regularly in ice-cold water during the winter (winter swimming), were evaluated before and after this short-term whole body exposure. A drastic decrease in plasma uric acid concentration was observed during and following the exposure to the cold stimulus. We hypothesize that the uric acid decrease can be caused by its consumption after formation of oxygen radicals. In addition, the erythrocytic level of oxidized glutathione and the ratio of oxidized glutathione/total glutathione also increased following cold exposure, which supports this hypothesis. Furthermore, the baseline concentration of reduced glutathione was increased and the concentration of oxidized glutathione was decreased in the erythrocytes of winter swimmers as compared to those of nonwinter swimmers. This can be viewed as an adaptation to repeated oxidative stress, and is postulated as mechanism for body hardening. Hardening is the exposure to a natural, e.g., thermal stimulus, resulting in an increased tolerance to stress, e.g., diseases. Exposure to repeated intensive short-term cold stimuli is often applied in hydrotherapy, which is used in physical medicine for hardening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology
  • Adult
  • Cold Climate / adverse effects
  • Cold Temperature* / adverse effects
  • Free Radicals / blood
  • Glutathione / analogs & derivatives
  • Glutathione / blood*
  • Glutathione Disulfide
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Swimming
  • Uric Acid / blood*


  • Free Radicals
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Uric Acid
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide