Effects of exercise training on the glutathione antioxidant system

Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2007 Oct;14(5):630-7. doi: 10.1097/HJR.0b013e32828622d7.


Purpose: The glutathione (GSH) antioxidant system has been shown to play an important role in the maintenance of good health and disease prevention. Various approaches have been used to enhance GSH availability including diet, nutritional supplementation, and drug administration, with minor to moderate success. Exercise training has evolved as a new approach. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of aerobic exercise training (AET), circuit weight training (CWT), and combined training (AET+CWT) on general adaptations, and resistance to acutely induced oxidative stress, as assessed by changes in the GSH antioxidant system.

Methods: Eighty healthy sedentary volunteers participated in the study who were randomly assigned to four groups: control (no exercise); AET, CWT, and AET+CWT. Exercise training programs were designed to simulate outpatient cardiac rehabilitation (40 min x 3 days x 6 weeks). Venous blood sampling was taken at rest and post maximal graded exercise test (GXT). A new improved spectrophotometric venous assay analysis technique was used. A mixed model repeated measures analysis of variance design was used with t-tests for preplanned comparisons evaluated at Bonferroni-adjusted alpha levels.

Results: Effectiveness of the exercise training programs was demonstrated by significant between-group (exercise group versus control) comparisons. AET, CWT, and AET+CWT showed significant pretraining-posttraining increases in resting GSH and glutathione-glutathione disulfide ratio (GSH:GSSG), and significant decreases in GSSG levels (P<0.005). AET+CWT showed the most pronounced effect compared with AET or CWT alone (P<0.025).

Conclusion: This study represents the first longitudinal investigation involving the effects of multiple modes of exercise training on the GSH antioxidant system with evidence, suggesting the GHS:GSSG ratio as the most sensitive change marker. The significant findings of this study have potential clinical implications to individuals involved in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Glutathione Disulfide / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Antioxidants
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide