In human peripheral blood polymorphonuclear leukocytes and lymphocytes, GSH-oxidizing agents promote the movement of surface-bound concanavalin A (Con A) into caps and inhibit the assembly of microtubules (MT) that is normally induced by Con A binding. Con A capping and inhibition of MT assembly occur when GSH levels in cell suspensions are decreased by 30-70%, and return to GSH to control levels is accompanied by the appearance of cytoplasmic MT and by inhibition of the capping response with Con A. Oxidation of GSH markedly stimulates the hexose monophosphate shunt, and regeneration of GSH occurs rapidly. The data indicate that MT cannot be assembled or maintained in the face of decreased GSH levels. Thus, GSH homeostasis becomes critical during physiological events such as phagocytosis which simultaneously induce the assembly of MT and the production of agents like H2O2 that can oxidize GSH.

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