Gamma-glutamyltransferase of cancer cells at the crossroads of tumor progression, drug resistance and drug targeting

Anticancer Res. 2010 Apr;30(4):1169-81.


Gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) is a key enzyme involved in glutathione metabolism and whose expression is often significantly increased in human malignancies. In the past years, several studies focused on the possible role of GGT in tumor progression, invasion and drug resistance. The involvement of a pro-oxidant activity of GGT, besides its early recognized contributions to cellular antioxidant defenses, has been repeatedly documented. GGT-derived pro-oxidants can modulate important redox-sensitive processes and functions of the cell, with particular reference to its proliferative/apoptotic balance, which has obvious and important implications in tumor progression and drug resistance. In addition, the specificity of the enzymatic reaction carried out by GGT suggests that suitable pro-drugs could be selectively metabolized (activated) by GGT expressed in tumor tissue. This paper is a review of the recent investigation in the field, focusing on the potential role of GGT as a diagnostic/prognostic marker, as well as a target for anticancer treatments.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / biosynthesis
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Cisplatin