Glutathione, oxidative stress and neurodegeneration

Eur J Biochem. 2000 Aug;267(16):4904-11. doi: 10.1046/j.1432-1327.2000.01595.x.


There is significant evidence that the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Friedreich's ataxia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, may involve the generation of reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial dysfunction. Here, we review the evidence for a disturbance of glutathione homeostasis that may either lead to or result from oxidative stress in neurodegenerative disorders. Glutathione is an important intracellular antioxidant that protects against a variety of different antioxidant species. An important role for glutathione was proposed for the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease, because a decrease in total glutathione concentrations in the substantia nigra has been observed in preclinical stages, at a time at which other biochemical changes are not yet detectable. Because glutathione does not cross the blood-brain barrier other treatment options to increase brain concentrations of glutathione including glutathione analogs, mimetics or precursors are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Friedreich Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Motor Neuron Disease / physiopathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology


  • Glutathione