Intracellular glutathione in the peripheral blood cells of HIV-infected patients: failure to show a deficiency

AIDS. 1996 May;10(5):501-7. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199605000-00008.


Objective: To determine whether HIV-infected patients have a deficiency of intracellular glutathione (GSH) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and erythrocytes.

Design: Initial experiments determining the stability of intracellular GSH preceded the measurement of GSH levels in 33 HIV-positive patients and 40 control subjects within 1 h of isolation of their blood cells. In addition, the susceptibility of erythrocytes to dapsone hydroxylamine-induced methaemoglobinaemia was evaluated.

Methods: GSH levels were determined by an high-performance liquid chromatography method utilizing a fluorescent probe, monobromobimane. The bimane-GSH adduct formed in PBMC was also characterized by mass spectrometry. Methaemoglobin formation on exposure to dapsone hydroxylamine was determined spectrophotometrically.

Results: GSH levels remained stable for only 1 h after cell isolation, thereafter showing a decrease of 20 and 60% at 4 and 24H, respectively, There was no difference in the GSH levels in PBMC and erythrocytes of the HIV-positive patients compared with controls. The GSH levels were not related to the disease stage or to CD4+ cell counts. There was no difference in GSH levels in PBMC taken from trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole-hypersensitive and non-hypersensitive patients. Methaemoglobinaemia on exposure of erythrocytes to dapsone hydroxylamine was concentration-dependent, but there was no significant difference between patients and controls.

Conclusion: In contrast to previous studies, no deficiency of intracellular GSH in the PBMC and erythrocytes of HIV-infected patients was found. The discrepancy between studies may be methodological reflecting the instability of GSH, which requires prompt sample analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Dapsone / analogs & derivatives
  • Dapsone / pharmacology
  • Drug Hypersensitivity
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry*
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Glutathione / blood*
  • Glutathione / deficiency
  • HIV Infections / blood*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Methemoglobinemia / chemically induced
  • Middle Aged
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / adverse effects


  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination
  • Dapsone
  • Glutathione
  • 4-amino-4'-hydroxylaminodiphenylsulfone