Cultured chick embryo hepatocytes were iron-loaded with ferric nitrilotriacetate. Iron-loading was confirmed by both quantitative cellular iron determinations and ultrastructural studies. With iron-loading, lipid peroxidation, as detected by malonaldehyde released into the medium, occurred at a linear rate for 12h, after which time the rate of malonaldehyde production decreased. No cell toxicity, as detected by lactate dehydrogenase release, was noted. The amount of malonaldehyde recovered in the medium after 18h of exposure to iron represented 24-33% of the total malonaldehyde that could be produced by incubating lysed cells with iron and ascorbate. Cellular glutathione was not affected by iron-stimulated lipid peroxidation, but was increased by allylisopropylacetamide. Although iron-loading by itself had no effect on activity of 5-aminolaevulinate synthase, the first and rate-limiting step in haem synthesis, iron-loading in the presence of the porphyrogenic drug allylisopropylacetamide increased levels of 5-aminolaevulinate synthase 6-fold over levels induced by the drug alone. The antioxidant, butylated hydroxytoluene, totally inhibited iron-stimulated lipid peroxidation, but did not interfere with the effect of iron-loading to potentiate an increase in 5-aminolaevulinate synthase. After 18h of exposure to iron, followed by a change to fresh medium, the iron remaining within the cells did not stimulate further lipid peroxidation over the following 18h, but did potentiate an increase in 5-aminolaevulinate synthase on exposure to allylisopropylacetamide. It therefore appears that lipid peroxidation is not the mechanism by which iron potentiates induction of hepatic 5-aminolaevulinate synthase.

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