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Author Notes:

Email Address: jgrunwe@emory.edu

We also acknowledge the Emory+Children’s Statistical Core for assistance and the Emory+Children’s Biomarkers Core for analyte analyses.

The authors Jocelyn R. Grunwell, Scott E. Gillespie, Janine M. Ward, Theresa W. Gauthier, Lou Ann Brown, and Kiran B. Hebbar have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to the article to disclose.

Anne M. Fitzpatrick has received consulting fees from the following companies: Boehringer Ingelheim, Genentech Consulting, GlaxoSmithKline Scientific Advisory Board, MedImmune, Inc., Consulting, and Merck Scientific Advisory Board.


Research Funding:

This study was supported by an internal award from the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Friends grant number 38234, by RO1 NR012021, and by award number UL1TR000454 from the National Center for Advancing the Translational Sciences.


  • critical illness
  • cysteine
  • glutathione
  • oxidative stress
  • pediatric
  • redox potential

Comparison of Glutathione, Cysteine, and Their Redox Potentials in the Plasma of Critically Ill and Healthy Children.


Journal Title:

Frontiers in Pediatrics


Volume 3


, Pages 46-46

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background Oxidative stress is known to play a role in critical illness due to an imbalance in reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species, and the body’s ability to detoxify pro-oxidants using small molecule anti-oxidants and anti-oxidant enzymes. Objective To compare the concentrations of plasma redox metabolites and redox potentials for the Cys/CySS and GSH/GSSG thiol/disulfide pairs in critically ill children with healthy control children. Methods We performed a prospective clinical observational study of children ages ≤18 years and weight ≥6 kg, who were hospitalized between January 2010 and April 2012 in a 30-bed multidisciplinary medical-surgical pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). We measured the plasma concentrations of Cys, CySS, GSH, and GSSG within the first 24 h of PICU arrival, and we calculated the redox potential for the Cys/CySS (Eh Cys/CySS) and GSH/GSSG (Eh GSH/GSSG) thiol/disulfide pairs in the plasma of 61 critically ill children and 16 healthy control children. Results Critically ill children have less Cys (p = 0.009), less CySS (p = 0.011), less Total Cys ([Cys] + 2[CySS], p = 0.01), more GSSG (p < 0.001), and more oxidized Eh GSH/GSSG (p < 0.001) compared to healthy children. Conclusion Our results demonstrate that in the presence of pediatric critical illness, the Total Cys/CySS thiol pool decreases while GSH is likely one component of the cellular redox system that reduces CySS back to Cys, thus maintaining Eh Cys/CySS. The Total Cys pool is more abundant than the Total GSH pool in the plasma of children. Further investigation is needed to elucidate the differences in redox potentials in subgroups of critically ill children, and to determine whether differences in redox metabolite concentrations and redox potentials correlate with severity of critical illness and clinical outcomes.

Copyright information:

© 2015 Grunwell, Gillespie, Ward, Fitzpatrick, Brown, Gauthier and Hebbar.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits making multiple copies, distribution of derivative works, distribution, public display, and publicly performance, provided the original work is properly cited. This license requires copyright and license notices be kept intact, credit be given to copyright holder and/or author.

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