Mary L. Taylor

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology



Physical Description

1 online resource ([2], [vii], 70 pages)


Alzheimer's disease -- Pathophysiology, Glutathione -- Metabolism, Lymphocytes, Oxidative stress, Nervous system -- Degeneration




The hypothesis to be tested states that the pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) involves elevated levels of oxidative stress, resulting in elevated levels of cellular oxidative defense mechanisms. If the premise is true, than AD pathologically afflicted cells should have a higher demand for glutathione (GSH) as an innate oxidative defense mechanism hence; greater GSH concentrations, increased GSH resynthesis capabilities, and increased levels of cystathionine gamma-lyase (CNase). Alzheimer diseased and age matched control lymphoblast cells, obtained from OHSU's Oregon Brain Aging Study, were cultured, and GSH biochemistry was subsequently evaluated. GSH was depleted by exposing cells to the GSH depleting agent diethylmaleate (DEM) and the resulting GSH concentrations were measured. GSH resynthesis was measured after depleting GSH with DEM, to a level of approximately half base GSH concentration, then removing the depleting agent, resuspending the cells in fresh medium (DEM-free), and subsequently measuring GSH levels. GSH concentrations were measured by HPLC, and all data was normalized to cellular protein concentration. Cellular CNase specific activity levels were measured by adding cytasthionine, the CNase substrate, and then measuring the amount of cysteine produced by means of the DTNB assay. The AD cell lines showed no increase in base levels of GSH as compared to control cell lines. The AD cell lines showed a statistically significant increase in GSH resynthesis capabilities and cystathionine gamma-lyase specific activity levels. These findings add further weight to the AD oxidative stress hypothesis, which is based on the premise that the causative agent of AD pathogenesis is an increase in the level of cellular free radicals produced.


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