Role of glutathione reductase system in disulfiram conversion to diethyldithiocarbamate

Experiments were carried out to establish the role of glutathione reductase (GR), if any, in the metabolic conversion of disulfiram (DS) to diethyldithiocarbamate (DDC). It was observed that, under standard assay conditions, whereas DS was incorporated as a substrate instead of oxidised glutathione (GSSG), the enzymes from both human liver extract and yeast sources failed to reduce the parent compound, implying that glutathione reductase perse do not reduce disulfiram. However, the incorporation of disulfiram into an assay system comprising of GSSG, NADPH and reductase resulted in DS reduction to DDC. Further, the observation, that the GR assay system devoid of either GSSG or NADPH was found to lack DS reducing ability, implies that GSH as a reaction product of GR system is responsible for the reduction of DS to DDC. The results of in-vitro experiments indicated that GSH perse could reduce DS to DDC nonenzymatically, with a stoichiometric relationship of 2:1. Thus it is inferred that GR perse do not reduce DS, whereas GSH, as an intermediary metabolite of GR system, brings about non-enzymatic reduction of DS via a sulfhydral group exchange reaction.