Reperfusion injury of the liver: Role of mitochondria and protection by glutathione ester

Ignazio Grattagliano, Gianluigi Vendemiale, Bernhard H. Lauterburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Reperfusion injury of the liver is characterized by intravascular oxidative stress and GSH consumption. Whether mitochondria contribute to hepatocellular damage has never been elucidated. Therefore, we assessed mitochondrial function and redox state during reperfusion and the effect of glutathione monoethyl ester (GSHE) administration, which may replenish the GSH pool. Materials and methods. Rats were subjected to partial hepatic ischemia (90 min) followed by reperfusion. Mitochondrial function was assessed in vivo and in vitro by the KICA breath test and the ATP synthase activity. Just prior to the start of reperfusion, rats received 5 mmol/kg of GSHE or saline iv. ALT, total and oxidized (GSSG) glutathione, GSHE, and CYS were measured in plasma and liver. GSH, GSSG, malondialdehyde (MDA), and carbonyl proteins were measured in mitochondria. The extent of necrosis was also estimated. Sham-operated rats served as controls. Results. Reperfusion markedly increased ALT (> 1500 U/L) and doubled the liver content of MDA and carbonyl proteins. Mitochondrial GSH decreased ~30%, without increase of GSSG. The in vivo KICA breath test was not significantly impaired by reperfusion. In contrast, both KICA decarboxylation and ATP synthase activity were both reduced by ~50% in mitochondria isolated from reperfused livers. GSHE administration significantly decreased ALT (~40%), protected ATP synthase activity, and reduced the extent of necrosis. Compared to controls, plasma GSHE and plasma GSH at 1 h were lower in rats subjected to ischemia. GSHE was higher in reperfused lobes than in continuously perfused ones and the concentration of GSH was significantly higher in ischemic liver than in untreated animals, indicating that the uptake of GSHE is increased in postischemic liver. GSHE prevented the reperfusion-associated increase of oxidized products in liver and mitochondria. Conclusions. Reperfusion of ischemic liver is associated with oxidative modifications and functional impairment of mitochondria. GSHE protects against reperfusion injury, possibly by providing intra- and extracellular GSH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-8
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione monoethyl ester
  • Ketoisocaproic acid breath test
  • Liver
  • Mitochondria
  • Reperfusion injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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