The production of polyols in vitro by highly purified aldose reductase (EC 1.1.1.21) was monitored by g.l.c. In the presence of NADPH aldose reductase reduced glucose, galactose and xylose to the respective polyols sorbitol, galactitol and xylitol. The rates of formation of these polyols closely mirrored the Km values for the substrates obtained from kinetic measurements that monitored the rate of disappearance of NADPH. No polyol production occurred in the absence of purified aldose of purified aldose reductase, and analysis by g.l.c. revealed only the presence of unchanged monosaccharides. Addition of the aldose reductase inhibitor sorbinil to purified rat lens aldose reductase incubated with xylose in the presence of NADPH resulted in decreased xylitol production. However, aldose reductase inhibitors produced no effect in altering the rate of Nitro Blue Tetrazolium formation from either glucose or xylose, indicating that the observed inhibition in vitro does not result from a free-radical-scavenger effect.

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