Role of glutathione in cancer pathophysiology and therapeutic interventions

J Exp Ther Oncol. 2012;9(4):303-16.


Glutathione (GSH) is an important intracellular antioxidant that instills several vital roles within a cell including maintenance of the redox state, drug detoxification, and cellular protection from damage by free radicals, peroxides and toxins. Molecular alterations in the components of the GSH system in various tumors can lead to increased survival and enhanced tumor drug resistance. Early identification of the importance of intracellular GSH to detoxification reactions has now led to investigating the potential importance that GSH chemistry has on signal transduction, molecular regulation of cellular physiology and regulation of apoptosis pathway. Several therapeutic agents that target this system have been developed and used experimentally and clinically in an attempt to improve cancer chemotherapy. This review highlights different roles played by GSH that finally regulate tumor growth and advances in the use of GSH-based drugs to specifically target this detoxifying system in cancer treatment as a means to increase therapeutic response and decrease chemotherapeutic drug resistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Glutathione