Use of in vitro methaemoglobin generation to study antioxidant status in the diabetic erythrocyte

Michael D. Coleman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poor glycaemic control in diabetes and a combination of oxidative, metabolic, and carbonyl stresses are thought to lead to widespread non- enzymatic glycation and eventually to diabetic complications. Diabetic tissues can suffer both restriction in their supply of reducing power and excessive demand for reducing power. This contributes to compromised antioxidant status, particularly in the essential glutathione maintenance system. To study and ultimately correct deficiencies in diabetic glutathione maintenance, an experimental model would be desirable, which would provide in vitro a rapid, convenient, and dynamic reflection of the performance of diabetic GSH antioxidant capacity compared with that of non-diabetics. Xenobiotic-mediated in vitro methaemoglobin formation in erythrocytes drawn from diabetic volunteers is significantly lower than that in erythrocytes of non-diabetics. Aromatic hydroxylamine-mediated methaemoglobin formation is GSH-dependent and is indicative of the ability of an erythrocyte to maintain GSH levels during rapid thiol consumption. Although nitrite forms methaemoglobin through a complex GSH-independent pathway, it also reveals deficiencies in diabetic detoxification and antioxidant performance compared with non-diabetics. Together with efficient glycaemic monitoring, future therapy of diabetes may include trials of different antiglycation agents and antioxidant combinations. Equalization in vitro of diabetic methaemoglobin generation with that of age/sex-matched non-diabetic subjects might provide an early indication of diabetic antioxidant status improvement in these studies. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1409-1416
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2000


  • Antioxidants
  • Aromatic amines
  • Diabetic
  • Erythrocyte
  • GSH
  • Methaemoglobin
  • Nitrites


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