Cord Blood Glutathione Depletion in Preterm Infants: Correlation with Maternal Cysteine Depletion
OBJECTIVE To measure levels of total plasma cysteine, homocysteine, cysteinylglycine and glutathione of normotensive primiparous pregnant women in the second and the third trimester. METHODS Two consecutive blood samples were taken from 65 healthy primiparous women in the 19th to 21st weeks of pregnancy and then in the 30th to 32nd weeks. Plasma total cysteine, homocysteine, cysteinylglycine and glutathione were determined by HPLC method. Women were followed until delivery. Sixty-two pregnant women were normotensive throughout the pregnancy and 3 developed pre-eclampsia. Median levels of thiols in the second and the third trimesters were compared using paired t test. RESULTS Levels (median [range], micromol/l) of plasma total cysteine in normotensive pregnant women were significantly lower in the third than in the mid-trimester (176.1 [163.0, 189.4] vs. 187.4 [178.7, 205.2], p < 0.001). Concentrations of total homocysteine, cysteinylglycine and glutathione were not different. CONCLUSION Plasma total cysteine (t-Cys) is significantly lower in the third compared to the second trimester. Urinary excretion of t-Cys does not differ in the second compared to the third trimester. The decrease of t-Cys might indicate that cysteine is essential for the fetus.