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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 15, 2009

O-β-N-acetyl-D-glucosaminidase in erythrocytes of Italian air force acrobatic pilots

Massimiliano M. Corsi , Luca Massaccesi , Giada Dogliotti , Elena Vianello , Marco Agrifoglio , Fabrizio Palumbo and Giancarlo Goi


Background: Italian air force acrobatic pilots are occupationally susceptible to oxidative stress damage that can lead to overt signs and symptoms of hypoxia. We propose erythrocyte glycohydrolases as new, sensitive markers to assess oxidative stress.

Methods: We measured erythrocyte concentrations of β-D-glucuronidase (GCR), hexosaminidase, O-β-N-acetyl-D-glucosaminidase (O-GlcNAcase), plasma membrane fluidity and plasma hydroperoxides from 19 pilots and compared these to 40 matched healthy subjects.

Results: Plasma hydroperoxide concentrations and the erythrocyte ghosts' fluorescence anisotropy were significantly lower in the pilots. Concentrations of GCR, O-GlcNAcase and hexosaminidase in pilots were significantly different from controls, being lower, higher and higher, respectively.

Conclusions: Pilots, in spite of their oxidative stress, are better protected than controls, probably as a result of their physical training and proper diet. Our results confirm that erythrocytes, with their 120-day life span, are a useful model for investigating physiopathological conditions, and glycohydrolases are good markers for monitoring oxidative stress, even in healthy people.

Clin Chem Lab Med 2010;48:213–6.

Corresponding author: Prof. Giancarlo Goi, Department of Medical Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biotechnology, School of Medicine, University of Milan, Via Saldini 50, 20133 Milan, Italy Phone: +39 02 503 16021, Fax: +39 02 503 16017,

Received: 2009-6-9
Accepted: 2009-10-7
Published Online: 2009-12-15
Published in Print: 2010-02-01

©2010 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York

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