Fifteen cytoplasmic erythrocyte enzyme activities were determined in patients with polycythemia vera (PV), iron deficiency anemia (IDA), and a group of healthy volunteers. Among the PV patients, the erythrocyte enzyme activities were compared between 2 groups: patients treated solely with phlebotomy and patients treated with phlebotomy, Myleran (busulfan) and/or radioactive phosphor 32P. Significant reduction in glutathione reductase activity was found in the PV group of patients. This activity was normalized by the addition of flavin adenine dinucleotide. In contrast to previous reports, no other enzyme activity was found to be significantly reduced. The activities of the enzymes known to be age-dependent were significantly elevated in all the groups tested except for phosphofructokinase and 3-phosphoglycerate mutase. The former was not elevated in any of the groups studied, while the latter was elevated only in the group of patients treated with Myleran and/or 32P. It was concluded that glutathione reductase (GR) deficiency is the only acquired enzyme deficiency in our group of PV patients and that radiation and chemotherapy did not induce further reduction in the activities of any of the enzymes tested. The possible involvement of GR deficiency in the etiology of the red cell life span shortening was discussed.

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