Application of Glutathione as Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Aging Drugs

Curr Drug Metab. 2015;16(7):560-71. doi: 10.2174/1389200216666151015114515.


Glutathione (GSH), an abundant tripeptidyl molecule, plays pivotal roles in protecting cells against oxidative stress-induced cellular damage and in detoxifying xenobiotics and drug metabolism. GSH is now entering a new era of therapeutic applications. Decreased GSH levels are associated with the common features of aging as well as of a wide range of pathological conditions, including neurodegenerative disorders. Notably, GSH depletion and/or alterations in its metabolism appear to be crucial in the onset of Parkinson's disease. Despite the fact that GSH is required for cell survival, the molecular mechanism that links GSH depletion to cell death remains poorly understood. Recently, considerable attention has been focused on a newly defined type of cell death: irondependent cell death, also referred to as "ferroptosis". The iron chelator deferoxamine nearly abolishes ferroptosis induced by inhibiting GSH synthesis or cystine uptake by the xCT transporter. Deferoxamine preferentially abrogates the intralysosomal accumulation of iron and inhibits oxidative stress-induced lysosomal membrane permeabilization and cell death. The use of GSH and a prodrug derived from it can be useful, since the dysfunction of the GSH redox system appears to cause a variety of diseases including neurodegenerative disorders. However, the effectiveness of GSH as a therapeutic agent is limited because of its low bioavailability. We also review trials that have been designed to cope with this difficulty; e.g. the use of precursors such as N-acetyl cysteine and chemical modification such as methylation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects*
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Glutathione / chemistry
  • Glutathione / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology


  • Antioxidants
  • Glutathione