A new model of cystic fibrosis pathology: lack of transport of glutathione and its thiocyanate conjugates.

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Medical Hypotheses (Impact Factor: 1.18). 02/2007; 68(1):101-12. DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2006.06.020
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Many of the symptoms of cystic fibrosis are not explained by the current disease mechanisms. Therefore, the authors conducted an extensive literature review and present a new model of cystic fibrosis pathology, which is the culmination of this research. Understanding that the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is responsible for glutathione (GSH) transport, the authors hypothesize that mutations of the CFTR, which create abnormal GSH transport, will lead to aberrations of GSH levels in both the intracellular as well as the extracellular milieu. These alterations in normal cellular GSH levels affect the redox state of the cell, thereby affecting the intracellular stress protein, metallothionein. The authors describe how this disruption of the redox state caused by excess cellular GSH, will naturally prevent the delivery of zinc as a cofactor for various enzymatic processes, and how these disruptions in normal redox may cause alterations in both humoral and cell-mediated immunity. Moreover, the symptom of thick sticky mucus in these patients might be explained through the understanding that oversulfation of mucus is a direct result of elevated cellular GSH and cysteine. The issues of hyperinflammation, altered pH and the imbalance of fatty acids that are typical in cystic fibrosis are addressed-all of which may also be linked to disruptions in GSH homeostasis. Additionally, this new model of cystic fibrosis pathology, clarifies the relationship between the CFTR and the multi-drug resistance proteins, and the lack of cell-mediated immunity by predicting that the substrate of these proteins is a glutathione adduct of thiocyanate. Finally, a new therapeutic strategy by using isothiocyanates to rectify the GSH imbalance and restore the immune system is suggested for the treatment of cystic fibrosis patients.

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