Purpose: Glutathione is a tripeptide consisting of cysteine, glycine, and glutamate and functions as a major antioxidant. It is synthesized endogenously in humans. Glutathione protects thiol protein groups from oxidation and is involved in cellular detoxification for maintenance of the cell environment. Reduced glutathione (GSH) has a skin-whitening effect in humans through its tyrosinase inhibitory activity, but in the case of oxidized glutathione (GSSG) this effect is unclear. We examined the skin-whitening and skin-condition effects of topical GSSG in healthy women.
Subjects and methods: The subjects were 30 healthy adult women aged 30 to 50 years. The study design was a randomized, double-blind, matched-pair, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Subjects applied GSSG 2% (weight/weight [w/w]) lotion to one side of the face and a placebo lotion to the other side twice daily for 10 weeks. We objectively measured changes in melanin index values, moisture content of the stratum corneum, smoothness, wrinkle formation, and elasticity of the skin. The principal investigator and each subject also used subjective scores to investigate skin whitening, wrinkle reduction, and smoothness. Analysis of variance was used to evaluate differences between groups.
Results: The skin melanin index was significantly lower with GSSG treatment than with placebo from the early weeks after the start of the trial through to the end of the study period (at 10 weeks, P<0.001). In addition, in the latter half of the study period GSSG-treated sites had significant increases in moisture content of the stratum corneum, suppression of wrinkle formation, and improvement in skin smoothness. There were no marked adverse effects from GSSG application.
Conclusion: Topical GSSG is safe and effectively whitens the skin and improves skin condition in healthy women.
Keywords: melanin index; melanogenesis; oxidized glutathione; reduced glutathione; skin whitening; topical.