Glutathione (γ-glutamyl-cysteinyl-glycine) is an intracellular thiol molecule and a potent antioxidant that participates in the toxic metabolism phase II biotransformation of xenobiotics. It can bind to a variety of proteins in a process known as glutathionylation. Protein glutathionylation is now recognised as one of important posttranslational regulatory mechanisms in cell and tissue physiology. Direct and indirect regulatory roles in physiological processes include glutathionylation of major transcriptional factors, eicosanoids, cytokines, and nitric oxide (NO). This review looks into these regulatory mechanisms through examples of glutathione regulation in apoptosis, vascularisation, metabolic processes, mitochondrial integrity, immune system, and neural physiology. The focus is on the physiological roles of glutathione beyond biotransformational metabolism.
Keywords: GSH; GSSG; epigenetics; immunity; transcriptional factors.