Action of cystine in the cytotoxic response of Escherichia coli cells exposed to hydrogen peroxide. Author: Cantoni O; Brandi G; Albano A; Cattabeni F Source: Free Radic Res 1995 Mar; 22(3):275-83 Abstract: Cystine markedly enhanced the cytotoxic response of Escherichia coli cells to concentrations of hydrogen peroxide resulting in mode one killing, but displayed little effect in mode two killed cells. The effect of cystine was concentration- dependent over a range of 5-50 microM and did not further increase at higher levels. Cystine had similar effects in other bacterial systems. In order to sensitize the cells to the oxidative injury, the amino acid must be present during exposure to the oxidant since no enhancement of the cytotoxic response can be observed in cystine pre-loaded cells. In addition, no further enhancement of cytotoxicity could be detected when cystine was added before and left during challenge with the oxidant. The enhancing effect of cystine on oxidative injury of E. coli cells appears to be directly mediated by the amino acid and in fact cysteic acid, the most likely oxidation product, had no effect on the killing of bacterial cells elicited by hydrogen peroxide. Other disulfide compounds such as oxidized glutathione, cystamine and dithionitrobenzoic acid only slightly increased the susceptibility of bacteria to the oxidant. The effect of the disulfides was not concentration-dependent over a range of 200-800 microM and was statistically significant only for cystamine. Taken together, these results indicate that cystine markedly increases the cytotoxic response of bacteria to hydrogen peroxide and suggest that the amino acid might impair the cellular defence machinery against hydrogen peroxide. This effect may involve a thiol-disulfide exchange reaction at the cell membrane level.