Physical exercise intensity can be related to plasma glutathione levels

J Physiol Biochem. 2001 Mar;57(2):9-14.


The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of different kinds of physical exercise on plasma glutathione levels. Male Wistar rats were randomly divided into four groups: In walking group (W; n=6), rats were trained to walk 0.8 m/min for 45 min; slow running group (SR; n=6) were trained to run 4 m/min for 45 min; fast running group (FR; n=6) ran 8m/min for 60 min and control rats (C; n=6) remained in their home cages. All animals were sacrificed after exercise and the levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) in plasma samples determined by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with a fluorescent detector. Compared to controls, exercise did not change GSH plasma levels of the W group. A tendency to decrease blood GSH was observed in plasma samples of the SR group and in the FR group, physical exercise resulted in a dramatic decrease in GSH plasma levels. These data suggest that during light physical exercise there is a low production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) with a low request for antioxidant defence such as oxidation of GSH. The dramatic decrease observed in GSH levels in FR rats would indicate the presence of oxidative stress able to modify blood antioxidant profiles. Our results suggest that GSH plays a central antioxidant role in blood during intensive physical exercise and that its modifications are closely related to exercise intensity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Glutathione / blood*
  • Male
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Glutathione