Glutathione metabolic status in the aged rabbit aorta
It is not known whether aging alters glutathione metabolic status of the mammalian arterial tissue favoring vascular oxidative stress and dysfunction. Thus we assessed total, reduced and oxidized glutathione (TG, GSH and GSSG, respectively), the glutathione redox ratio (GRR, namely [GSSG] / [GSH + 2GSSG] × 100), and the activities of the glutathione status-regulating enzymes glutathione reductase (GSSG-Red), γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (γ-GCS) and γ-glutamyl transpeptidase (γ-GT) in the aortic tissue of 9 young adult control rabbits (YACR, about 4 months old) and 9 aged rabbits (AR, about 4.5 years old); aortic lipid and protein oxidation and H2O2 were also determined as oxidative stress indicators. Vascular function was assessed on aortic ring preparations. TG and GSH concentrations, together with γ-GCS and γ-GT activities, were significantly lower, while GSSG content and the GRR higher, in the AR than in the YACR aortas; GSSG-Red activity did not differ significantly between the two groups. Heightened levels of lipid and protein oxidation and H2O2 occurred in the AR aortas, indicating age-dependent vascular oxidative stress. Moreover, in the whole population of 18 rabbits, the aortic values of GSH and related enzyme activities were inversely and significantly correlated with those of lipid and protein oxidation and H2O2, highlighting the antioxidant role of GSH and related enzymes in the vascular tissue. Aortic endothelium-dependent vasodilation was lower in the AR than in the YACR. In conclusion, glutathione metabolic status is altered in the aged rabbit aorta reflecting depressed γ-GCS- and γ-GT-related GSH biosynthesis and GSSG burden eventually favoring vascular oxidative stress and dysfunction.