The effect of glutathione (GSH) isopropyl ester on cellular sensitivity to UVB irradiation was investigated in HeLaS3 cells. Pretreatment with 0.1–0.5 mM GSH isopropyl ester for 4 h significantly inhibited the decrease of thymidine (TdR) incorporation caused by UVB irradiation at a dose of 500 J/m2, whereas pretreatment with a high dose (1 mM) had no effect. The colony formation ability of the pretreated cells (0.3 mM) was significantly better than that of cells that received irradiation only. When the cells were treated with GSH isopropyl ester, their intracellular GSH level increased dose-dependently over a 4 h period, suggesting that GSH isopropyl ester was transported into the cells and there converted to GSH. Within 2 min of exposure, the intracellular GSH level depleted rapidly to about 75% of that in non-irradiated normal cells. In contrast, the GSH level in cells pretreated with 0.3mM GSH isopropyl ester was maintained at the same level as that in normal cells, indicating that the maintenance of intracellular GSH level is due to converted GSH from GSH isopropyl ester. These results clearly show that intracellular GSH is involved in cell protection against photodamage, and that GSH isopropyl ester is a useful antioxidant for protection against photooxidative injury.
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