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This study investigated whether reduced glutathione (GSH) was able to alter the negative effects of tributyltin (TBT) or dibutyltin (DBT) on the lytic function of human natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells are an initial immune defense against the development of tumors or viral infections. TBT and DBT are widespread environmental contaminants, due to their various industrial applications. Both TBT and DBT have been shown to decrease the ability of NK cells to lyse tumor cells (lytic function). The results indicated that the presence of GSH during the exposure of NK cells to TBT or DBT diminished the negative effect of the butyltin on the lytic function of NK cells. This suggests that the interaction of TBT and DBT with functionally relevant sulfhydryl groups in NK cells may be part of the mechanism by which they decrease NK lytic function.

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