Cysteine supplementation increases glutathione, but not polyamine, concentrations of the small intestine and colon of parenterally fed newborn rabbits

Paul F. Pollack, Audelio Rivera, David K. Rassin, Kenji Nishioka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


The glutathione precursor cysteine is not contained in most total parenteral nutrition (TPN) formulations, and premature infants may not be capable of synthesizing cysteine because of a deficiency of cystathionase. Glutathione depletion may have negative effects on host defense against oxidative damage. Several studies have suggested that glutathione depletion induces ornithine decarboxylase activity and increases in polyamine concentrations. Since an inverse relationship between polyamine and glutathione concentrations has been suggested, the concentrations of both of these compounds may be altered in premature infants receiving TPN. We measured glutathione and polyamine concentrations of the small intestine and colon of prematurely delivered newborn rabbits administered TPN for 7 days after birth with or without added cysteine (75 or 150 mg kg-1 day-1). Maternally reared kits were also studied. Total glutathione concentrations in the gastrointestinal tract were significantly lower in kits administered cysteine-free TPN than in kits receiving cysteine or who were maternally reared. Polyamine concentrations did not differ among groups. Glutathione depletion of the small intestine and colon does occur during cysteine-free parenteral nutrition and may compromise intestinal defense against oxidant damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-372
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 20 1996



  • Colon
  • Cysteine
  • Glutathione
  • Intestine
  • Parenteral nutrition
  • Polyamines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Histology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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