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Genetic Disorders of Glutathione and Sulfur Amino-Acid Metabolism: New Biochemical Insights and Therapeutic Approaches

JOSEPH D. SCHULMAN, M.D.; S. HARVEY MUDD, M.D.; JERRY A. SCHNEIDER, M.D.; STEPHEN P. SPIELBERG, M.D., Ph.D.; LAURENCE BOXER, M.D.; JANET OLIVER, Ph.D.; LAURENCE CORASH, M.D.; and MICHAEL SHEETZ, Ph.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Joseph D. Schulman, M.D.; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Building 10, Room 13N260; Bethesda, MD 20205.


Bethesda, Maryland


Ann Intern Med. 1980;93(2):330-346. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-93-2-330
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Important insights have recently been derived from studies of inborn human defects of sulfur metabolism. Metabolic lesions responsible for homocystinuria have been elucidated, with possible implications for understanding atherogenesis in the general population. The cause of cystinosis remains enigmatic, but important information has been gained on the origin of some stored cystine from degraded protein. Cysteamine and ascorbic acid deplete the cystine content of cystinotic fibroblasts in vitro, and clinical trials with these agents have been undertaken. Studies of patients with glutathione synthetase deficiency have provided new understanding of the roles of glutathione as an antioxidant and as a modulator of microtubule-related processes. Studies of patients with this disorder and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, in which the capacity to maintain glutathione in the reduced state is compromised, indicate that pharmacologic doses of vitamin E can correct certain functional consequences of an inadequate supply of reduced glutathione both in erythrocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Much remains to be learned about the mechanisms of membrane damage in these states of enhanced oxidative susceptibility.

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