Date of Award

Spring 4-15-2015

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name



Biology & Earth Science


Jeff Lehman, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

John Tansey, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Jonathan DeCoster, Ph.D.


Glutathione, Acer rubrum, Oxidation, GSH, Equine, Erythrocytes

Subject Categories

Biochemistry | Biology | Laboratory and Basic Science Research | Life Sciences | Molecular Biology | Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health | Plant Sciences | Veterinary Medicine


Red maple leaf toxicosis is an equine blood disorder resulting from the consumption of wilted red maple (Acer rubrum L.) leaves by horses. Compounds within the leaves of red maple have oxidative effects on equine erythrocytes and can cause hemolysis of erythrocytes, the conversion of hemoglobin to methemoglobin, and the production of Heinz bodies. Reduced glutathione is important in the protection of equine erythrocytes from these oxidative events; however, in the presence of red maple toxin, glutathione is rapidly oxidized and is unavailable. The objective of this study is to determine whether the presence of vitamin C alters levels of reduced glutathione for equine erythrocytes in vitro. Equine erythrocytes were sampled and treated with red maple leaf extract alone and in combination with vitamin C. Erythrocyte suspensions were then measured for concentration of reduced glutathione with the use of spectrophotometry. The results show a difference between reduced glutathione levels in control blood samples and blood samples treated with extract from wilted red maple leaves. Limited data shows an effect of vitamin C on samples with and without red maple leaf extract. These results are supported by other studies where oxidative damage in erythrocytes of other species causes decreased reduced glutathione concentration.