Glutathione, cysteine, and ascorbate concentrations in clinically ill dogs and cats

K. R. Viviano, S. N. Lavergne, L. Goodman, B. VanderWielen, L. Grundahl, M. Padilla, L. A. Trepanier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Oxidative stress plays a role in the pathogenesis of many systemic diseases. Hospitalized human patients are glutathione, cysteine, and ascorbate deficient, and antioxidant depletion has been correlated with poor clinical outcome. To date little is known about antioxidant concentrations in hospitalized veterinary patients. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ascorbate, cysteine, or glutathione depletion is present in ill dogs and cats compared with healthy controls. Hypothesis: Clinically ill dogs and cats would be antioxidant depleted, and depletion would correlate with illness severity and clinical outcome. Animals: Clinically ill client-owned dogs (n = 61) and cats (n = 37), healthy control dogs (n = 37) and cats (n = 33). Methods: Prospective, observational, case control study. Erythrocyte reduced glutathione, plasma cysteine, and plasma ascorbate were quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography. Results: Clinically ill dogs had significantly lower erythrocyte glutathione concentrations (1.22mM, range 0.55-3.61) compared with controls (1.91mM, range 0.87-3.51; P = .0004), and glutathione depletion correlated with both illness severity (P = .038) and mortality (P = .010). Cats had higher ascorbate concentrations when ill (10.65μM, range 1.13-25.26) compared with controls (3.68μM, range 0.36-13.57; P = .0009). Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Clinically ill dogs had decreased erythrocyte glutathione concentrations, which could be a marker of illness severity and prognostic of a poor outcome. Clinically ill cats had an unexpectedly high plasma ascorbate, which could represent a unique species response to oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-257
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of veterinary internal medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidants
  • Ascorbate
  • Cysteine
  • Glutathione
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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