We conducted a comprehensive characterization of the ontogeny of glutathione (GSH) and its related enzymes in rat liver. GSH content and activities of glutathione reductase (GR), cytosolic glutathione-Stransferases (GST), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) were determined in male rat livers (n = 4) at different developmental stages. Our results indicate total hepatic GSH content and GR, GST, and GPx activity were low in the perinatal period. GSH content remained relatively constant throughout postnatal development, but GR, GST, and GPx activity underwent significant increases to attain adult levels by late post-weaning. Whether the ontogenic pattern of GSH and its related enzymes explain, in part, the altered susceptibility of neonates to some toxicants requires further investigation. Our study provides fundamental biological information on the ontogeny of cytosolic antioxidant/detoxification enzymes in a relevant toxicological risk assessment species. Additional studies are needed to fully characterize the ontogeny of other xenobiotic detoxification enzymes to further promote the rat as a developmental toxicology model that can identify toxicokinetic reasons for differences in susceptibility to toxicity between the neonate and adult.
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