Red blood cell antioxidant and iron status in alcoholic and nonalcoholic cirrhosis

Gemino Fiorelli, T. M. De Feo, L. Duca, D. Tavazzi, I. Nava, S. Fargion, M. D. Cappellini

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Background: Iron overload has been reported in alcoholic liver cirrhosis but it remains to be established whether iron is involved in inducing oxidative damage to erythrocytes in alcoholic cirrhosis. The aim of this study was to assess oxidative damage and red cell indicators of antioxidant defences in alcoholics with mild-to-severe liver cirrhosis, taking into account the iron status. Materials and methods: Twenty-nine patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis (AC) and 27 with nonalcoholic cirrhosis (NAC) were studied. Serum lipid peroxides (LPO) were assayed by a colourimetric method. Serum-free malonyldialdehyde (MDA) was assayed by selected ion monitoring in positive chemical ionization; serum 4-hydroxy-2(E)-nonenal (4-HNE) was determined by a colorimetric method. Reduced (GSH) and oxidized glutathione (GSSG), adenine and pyridine cofactors were assayed in whole blood extracts by HPLC. Hexosemonophosphate shunt (HMPS), glycolytic pathway (EMP) and antioxidant enzyme activities were determined by standard methods. Iron status was evaluated by standard clinical chemistry and by histological grading of liver iron. Nontransferrin-bound iron (NTBI) was measured in serum by HPLC. Results: GSH progressively decreased with increasing severity of liver involvement in AC and NAC. MDA, 4-HNE and NTBI were significantly higher in AC serum. Stimulation of red cell HMPS and reducing potential, in terms of NADPH production, were more pronounced in AC. Conclusions: These results suggest that NTBI is more important than the decrease of antioxidant defences in inducing lipid peroxidation. NTBI may play a catalytic role in free radical reactions in the presence of cellular reductants such as NADPH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Investigation
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002


  • Alcoholic cirrhosis
  • Antioxidant defence
  • Glutathione
  • Iron
  • Nontransferrin-bound iron
  • Red blood cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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