Modulation of glutamate receptor functions by glutathione

Neurochem Int. Aug-Sep 2000;37(2-3):299-306. doi: 10.1016/s0197-0186(00)00031-0.


In addition to its well-known antioxidant effects, glutathione apparently has an additional double role in the central nervous system as a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator. A number of recent neurochemical, neuropharmacological and electrophysiological studies have yielded evidence on both functions. As an excitatory neurotransmitter, glutathione depolarizes neurons by acting as ionotropic receptors of its own which are different from any other excitatory amino acid receptors. As a neuromodulator, it displaces ionotropic glutamate receptor ligands from their binding sites and regulates calcium influx through N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-governed ionophores. In brain slices glutathione has been shown to regulate the release of other transmitters, e.g., gamma-aminobutyrate and dopamine, mediated by N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors. In the present article, we review recent findings on the neuromodulatory actions of glutathione and discuss possible physiological and pathophysiological consequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / drug effects
  • Calcium Channels / physiology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology
  • Glutathione / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Receptors, Glutamate / drug effects
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology*


  • Calcium Channels
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Glutathione