S-adenosylmethionine mediates glutathione efficacy by increasing glutathione S-transferase activity: implications for S-adenosyl methionine as a neuroprotective dietary supplement

J Alzheimers Dis. 2008 Jul;14(3):323-8. doi: 10.3233/jad-2008-14306.


When maintained on a folate-deficient, iron-rich diet, transgenic mice lacking in apolipoprotein E (ApoE-/- mice) demonstrate impaired activity of glutathione S-transferase (GST), resulting in increased oxidative species within brain tissue despite abnormally high levels of glutathione. These mice also exhibit reduced levels of S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) and increased levels of its hydrolysis product S-adenosyl homocysteine, which inhibits SAM usage. Supplementation of the above diet with SAM restored GST activity and eliminated reactive oxygen species at the expense of stockpiled glutathione, suggesting that one or more SAM-dependent reactions were required to maintain GST activity. We examined herein the impact of SAM on GST activity using a cell-free assay. SAM stimulated GST activity in a dose-response manner when added to homogenates derived from the above ApoE-/- mice. SAM also increased activity of purified rat liver GST and recombinant GST. Filtering of SAM through a 4 kDa cutoff and systematic withholding of reaction components eliminated the possibility of any additional contaminating enzyme. These findings confirm that SAM can exert a direct effect on GST activity. Since Alzheimer's disease is accompanied by reduced GST activity, diminished SAM and increased SAH, these findings underscore the critical role of SAM in maintenance of neuronal health.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / pharmacology*
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / physiology*


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • S-Adenosylmethionine
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Glutathione