1. Disulfiram has long been used in the treatment of chronic alcoholism. It is in vivo partially reduced to diethyldithiocarbamate, which is an efficient inhibitor of Cu, Zn-containing superoxide dismutase both in vitro and in vivo. The recently described extracellular superoxide dismutase is even more sensitive to diethyldithiocarbamate than Cu, Zn-superoxide dismutase.
2. To test for the possibility that long term treatment with disulfiram leads to inhibition of the superoxide dismutases, plasma extracellular superoxide dismutase and erythrocyte Cu, Zn-superoxide dismutase were determined in 12 disulfiram-treated alcoholics, and compared with 11 non-treated alcoholics and 19 healthy controls.
3. Plasma extracellular superoxide dismutase was moderately reduced (about 20%) in the disulfiram-treated alcoholics as compared with the non-treated alcoholics and the healthy controls. No effect of disulfiram treatment on erythrocyte Cu, Zn-superoxide dismutase activity was demonstrated.