Isolated hepatocytes incubated with 4mM-cysteine lose reduced glutathione, adenine nucleotides and intracellular enzymes, thus showing extensive membrane damage. The toxic effects of cysteine are enhanced by NH4Cl. Lactate, ethanol and unsaturated fatty acids afford significant protection against cysteine-induced cytoxicity. Addition of catalase to the incubation medium also protected against cysteine toxicity, indicating that H2O2 formed during the oxidation of cysteine is involved in the toxic effects observed. Under anaerobic conditions cysteine did not cause leakage of lactate dehydrogenase from cells, confirming that rapid autoxidation is an essential condition for development of the toxic effects of cysteine.

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