Glutathione in Ovarian Cancer: A Double-Edged Sword

Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jun 26;19(7):1882. doi: 10.3390/ijms19071882.


Glutathione (GSH) has several roles in a cell, such as a reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger, an intervenient in xenobiotics metabolism and a reservoir of cysteine. All of these activities are important in the maintenance of normal cells homeostasis but can also constitute an advantage for cancer cells, allowing disease progression and resistance to therapy. Ovarian cancer is the major cause of death from gynaecologic disease and the second most common gynaecologic malignancy worldwide. In over 50 years, the overall survival of patients diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer has not changed, regardless of the efforts concerning early detection, radical surgery and new therapeutic approaches. Late diagnosis and resistance to therapy are the main causes of this outcome, and GSH is profoundly associated with chemoresistance to platinum salts, which, together with taxane-based chemotherapy and surgery, are the main therapy strategies in ovarian cancer treatment. Herein, we present some insights into the role of GSH in the poor prognosis of ovarian cancer, and also point out how some strategies underlying the dependence of ovarian cancer cells on GSH can be further used to improve the effectiveness of therapy.

Keywords: cancer metabolism; chemoresistance; cysteine; glutathione; ovarian cancer; platinum based drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • Glutathione / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Glutathione
  • Cysteine