Previous studies had shown that administration of streptozotocin to rats produces both diabetes and hemolysis and that both could be ameliorated by prior injections of diazoxide. Thus, it appeared pertinent to define the effect of streptozotocin on the red cell. In the present studies, streptozotocin administered in vivo to rats produced a rapid fall in red-cell-reduced glutathione. This effect was duplicated in vitro in incubated human red cells. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that glucose loading prior to bleeding modified the in-vitro red-cell GSH response to streptozotocin and that preincubation of red cells from fasted individuals with glucose, nicotinamide, and epinephrine (but not nicotinic acid) protected against the subsequent effect of streptozotocin on RBC GSH. The pattern of the RBC GSH response under each of these conditions is that which occurs in response to challenge with an oxidant, that is, with appropriate protection, oxidation stress produces an acute rise rather than falll in gsh. further, when glucose was present through both preincubation and test periods (i.e., in presence of streptozotocin) a third pattern of GSH response was observed–no change. The data are compatible with the postulate that the cytotoxic action of streptozotocin is dependent, in part, on an oxidant effect, and that glucose may protect through at least two mechanisms, that adrenergic stimulation can enhance protective mechanisms against redox insults and so contribute to maintenance of cell viability.

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