Exogenous superoxide dismutase, catalase and scavengers of the hydroxyl radical protect pancreatic-islet cells against the toxic actions of alloxan in vitro [Grankvist et al. (1979) Biochem. J. 182, 17--25]. To test whether the extraordinary sensitivity of islet cells to alloxan is due to a deficiency of endogenous enzymes protecting against oxygen-reduction products, we assayed CuZn-superoxide dismutase, Mn-superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase in mouse islets and other tissues. To correct for any blood contamination, haemoglobin was also measured in the tissue samples. Pancreatic islets were found to belong to tissues with relatively little activity of the protective enzymes. However, the deviation from other tissues in this respect is probably not large enough to explain the especially great susceptibility of islet cells to alloxan.

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