Vitamin A (Vit A) is widely suggested to be protective against oxidative stress. However, different studies have been demonstrated the pro-oxidant effects of retinoids in several experimental models. In this work, we used the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism to study the Vit A effects on superoxide dismutase (SOD)-deficient yeast strains. We report here that Vit A (10, 20 and 40 mg/ml) decreases the survival of exponentially growing yeast cells, especially in strains deficient in CuZnSOD (sod1Delta) and CuZnSOD/MnSOD (sod1Deltasod2Delta). We also observed the protective effect of vitamin E against the Vit A-induced toxicity. Possible adaptation effects induced by sub-lethal oxidative stress were monitored by pre-, co- and post-treatment with the oxidative agent paraquat. The enzymatic activities of catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and the total glutathione content were determined after Vit A treatment. Our results showed that CuZnSOD represents an important defence against Vit A-generated oxidative damage. In SOD-deficient strains, the main defence against Vit A-produced reactive oxygen species (ROS) is GPx. However, the induction of GPx activity is not sufficient to prevent the Vit A-induced cell death in these mutants in exponential phase growth.
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