Glutathione (GSH) is the major intracellular thiol that plays a role in numerous detoxification, bio-reduction, and conjugation reactions. The availability of Cys is thought to be the rate-limiting factor for the synthesis of GSH. The effects of immune system stimulation (ISS) on GSH levels and the GSH synthesis rate in various tissues, as well as the plasma flux of Cys, were measured in starter pigs fed a sulfur AA (SAA; Met + Cys) limiting diet. Ten feed-restricted gilts with initial body weight (BW) of 7.0 ± 0.12 kg were injected i.m. twice at 48-h intervals with either sterile saline (n = 4; ISS−) or increasing amounts of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (n = 6; ISS+). The day after the second injection, pigs received a primed constant infusion of 35S-Cys (9,300 kBq/pig/h) for 5 h via a jugular catheter. Blood and tissue free Cys and reduced GSH were isolated and quantified as the monobromobimane derivatives by HPLC. The rate of GSH synthesis was determined by measurement of the specific radioactivity of GSH and tissue free Cys at the end of the infusion period. Plasma Cys and total SAA levels were reduced (16% and 21%, respectively), but plasma Cys flux was increased (26%) by ISS (P < 0.05). Immune system stimulation increased GSH levels in the plasma (48%; P < 0.05), but had no effect on GSH levels in the liver, small and large intestines, heart, muscle, spleen, kidney, lung, and erythrocytes. The fractional synthesis rate (FSR) of GSH was higher (P < 0.05) in the liver (34%), small intestine (78%), large intestine (72%), heart (129%), muscle (37%), and erythrocytes (47%) of ISS+ pigs compared to ISS− pigs. The FSR of GSH tended (P = 0.08) to be higher in the lungs (45%) of ISS+ pigs than in ISS− pigs. The absolute rate of GSH synthesis was increased by ISS (mmol/ kg wet tissue/d ± SE, ISS− vs. ISS+; P < 0.05) in the liver (5.22 ± 0.22 vs. 7.20 ± 0.59), small intestine (2.54 ± 0.25 vs. 4.52 ± 0.56), large intestine (0.61 ± 0.06 vs. 1.06 ± 0.16), heart (0.21 ± 0.03 vs. 0.48 ± 0.08), lungs (1.50 ± 0.10 vs. 2.90 ± 0.21), and muscle (0.21 ± 0.03 vs. 0.34 ± 0.04), but it remained unchanged in erythrocytes, the kidney, and the spleen (P > 0.80). The current findings suggest that GSH synthesis is increased during ISS, contributing to enhanced maintenance sulfur amino acid requirements in starter pigs during ISS.
- Synthesis rate