By Theron Hutton MD
Glutathione (GSH) is a small tripeptide that plays a vital role in maintaining cellular homeostasis and protecting against oxidative stress. It is composed of three amino acids: glutamate, cysteine, and glycine.
GSH is synthesized within cells through the enzymatic action of two enzyme systems: the rate-limiting enzyme glutamate cysteine ligase (GCL) and the enzyme GSH synthase. GCL is activated by the presence of oxidative stress, which increases the demand for GSH synthesis.
GSH acts as a primary antioxidant by scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). It can also regenerate other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, which become oxidized upon neutralizing ROS and RNS. In addition, GSH can directly interact with and detoxify a variety of toxic substances, including heavy metals, drugs, and carcinogens.
GSH deficiency has been linked to various diseases and conditions, including neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and aging. Supplementation with GSH or its precursors, such as N-acetylcysteine (NAC), has been shown to have therapeutic potential in these conditions. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and optimal dosage and duration of GSH supplementation.
GSH is often give orally as Glutathione. Because of the potential for the breakdown of glutathione by stomach the value of acid oral administration is questioned. One things which may improve it's stability is giving it in the liposomal form. Also, for this reason it is given intravenously at times. It is possible to test the blood for glutathione levels to see if there is a deficiency.
Meister, A. (1988). Glutathione. Annual Review of Biochemistry, 57, 711-760.
Maiorino, M., Bellastella, G., & Esposito, K. (2015). The role of glutathione in the management of oxidative stress and related diseases. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 6, 1-7.
Noh, J., & Meyers, C. A. (2013). Glutathione in health and disease. Annual Review of Nutrition, 33, 133-161.
Kim, Y., & Kim, H. (2016). The role of glutathione in cancer: Implications for therapeutic approaches. Molecular and Cellular Oncology, 3(3), e1068415.