The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics

Altered protein S-glutathionylation identifies a potential mechanism of resistance to acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity.

PMID 26311813


Acetaminophen (APAP) is the most commonly used over-the-counter analgesic. However, hepatotoxicity induced by APAP is a major clinical issue, and the factors that define sensitivity to APAP remain unclear. We have previously demonstrated that mice nulled for glutathione S-transferase Pi (GSTP) are resistant to APAP-induced hepatotoxicity. This study aims to exploit this difference to delineate pathways of importance in APAP toxicity. We used mice nulled for GSTP and heme oxygenase-1 oxidative stress reporter mice, together with a novel nanoflow liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry methodology to investigate the role of oxidative stress, cell signaling, and protein S-glutathionylation in APAP hepatotoxicity. We provide evidence that the sensitivity difference between wild-type and Gstp1/2(-/-) mice is unrelated to the ability of APAP to induce oxidative stress, despite observing significant increases in c-Jun N-terminal kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation in wild-type mice. The major difference in response to APAP was in the levels of protein S-glutathionylation: Gstp1/2(-/-) mice exhibited a significant increase in the number of S-glutathionylated proteins compared with wild-type animals. Remarkably, these S-glutathionylated proteins are involved in oxidative phosphorylation, respiratory complexes, drug metabolism, and mitochondrial apoptosis. Furthermore, we found that S-glutathionylation of the rate-limiting glutathione-synthesizing enzyme, glutamate cysteine ligase, was markedly increased in Gstp1/2(-/-) mice in response to APAP. The data demonstrate that S-glutathionylation provides an adaptive response to APAP and, as a consequence, suggest that this is an important determinant in APAP hepatotoxicity. This work identifies potential novel avenues associated with cell survival for the treatment of chemical-induced hepatotoxicity.