The metabolic pathway of glutathione: Applications in industrial toxicology

L. Ambrosi, L. Soleo, G. Elia, R. Attimonelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many electrophilic chemicals used in the chemical industry can penetrate the organism, conjugate with glutathione in the liver and then be eliminated with the urine in the form of thioethers or mercapturic acids. The measurement of these compounds in the biological monitoring of subjects exposed to the chemicals is limited by the fact that thioethers are an aspecific marker since than can also derive from the metabolism of endogenous substances, from the ingestion of certain foodstuffs of drugs or as a result of cigarette smoking, and because human studies on mercapturic acids are still in an initial stage due to the fact that little is known about the toxico kinetics of the chemicals which coniugate with glutathione while mercapturic acids in urine indicate that specific electrophilic chemical coumpounds have penetrated the organism. It can therefore be presumed that these compounds may be taken as reliable indicators in the biological monitoring of occupationally exposed subjects. Of the electrophilic chemicals used mainly in the plastics industry, the study examines acrylonitrile, epichlorohydrin, vinyl chloride monomer and 1,2-dichloroethane. The corresponding mercapturic acids that can be measured in the urine of exposed subjects are cyanoethylmercapturic acid (CEMA) for acrylonitrile, acetylchlor-hydroxypropylcystein (ACPC) for epichlorohydrin, and thiodiglycolic acid, a derivative of the corresponding mercapturic acid, for vinyl chloride monomer and 1,2-dichloroethane. The aims of studying the metabolic pathway of the conjugation of these electrophilic chemical with glutathione were mainly to verify the dose- response and dose-effect curves in man and to develop simpler laboratory methodologies for the study of exposed populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-39
Number of pages35
JournalMedicina del Lavoro
Issue number6 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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