1. The hypothesis was tested that the renal xanthine oxidase system provides a source of oxygen free radicals in puromycin aminonucleoside and adriamycin experimental nephrosis by generating uric acid from hypoxanthine and xanthine.

2. The concentrations in renal tissue of the putative intermediary products of puromycin aminonucleoside metabolism, hypoxanthine and xanthine, and of their precursors, adenosine and inosine, were lower in rats treated with puromycin aminonucleoside than in normal controls, whereas concentrations of the metabolites were normal after adriamycin intoxication. Their daily urinary excretion was lower in the 24 h after puromycin amino-nucleoside administration compared with the baseline values and returned to near normal levels within 5 days. After adriamycin the 24 h urinary excretion of xanthine and uric acid was double the baseline levels (P <0.001).

3. When equimolar amounts of hypoxanthine were injected instead of puromycin aminonucleoside, the concentration of all bases increased slightly in renal tissue and their urinary efflux was double the baseline level: allantoin, uric acid, the unmodified nucleotide and xanthine were the most represented compounds in urine.

4. The enzymatic activities relative to xanthine oxidase (EC and xanthine dehydrogenase (EC in renal tissues were unchanged 1 day after puromycin aminonucleoside or hypoxanthine intoxication and only moderately increased in both groups at 13 days (the time of appearance of heavy proteinuria in the puromycin aminonucleoside-treated group). In contrast, xanthine oxidase and xanthine dehydrogenase activities were higher in adriamycin-treated rats at 1 and 15 days after the treatment (P <0.001).

5. Feeding rats with normoprotein diets containing tungsten induced a marked and constant decrease of renal xanthine oxidase and xanthine dehydrogenase activities to 20% of the baseline values in both puromycin amino-nucleoside- and adriamycin-treated rats. Inhibition of renal xanthine oxidase and xanthine dehydrogenase activities by tungsten was associated with a marked reduction (P <0.001) of proteinuria in adriamycin-treated rats and the same occurred with allopurinol, a specific inhibitor of xanthine oxidase activity. In contrast, tungsten treatment did not reduce the proteinuria associated with puromycin aminonucleoside, which reached a maximum 13 days after puromycin aminonucleoside intoxication. Hypoxanthine-treated rats were normoproteinuric after 2 months of observation.

6. These data demonstrate an activation of renal xanthine oxidase and xanthine dehydrogenase after adriamycin intoxication which is relevant to the induction of proteinuria. They also argue against the involvement of the renal xanthine oxidase system as a source of free radicals in puromycin aminonucleoside nephrosis and suggest that the nucleotide cycle is not a normal route for puromycin aminonucleoside degradation. Other metabolic pathways for free radical generation from puromycin aminonucleoside must be considered.

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