Peptides > L-Glutathione


Glutathione is a potent anti-oxidant and regulator of a number of biochemical processes. It is abundant in human tissues, but subject to decline with aging. Research shows that can help to reduce neurodegenerative disease, promote cartilage health, ward off age-related changes in the eye, improve immune function, and maintain more youthful skin. Overall, there is robust evidence that glutathione is a potent anti-aging compound with extensive immune and health benefits.

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1. What is Glutathione?


2. L-Glutathione Structure


3. How Does Glutathione Work?


L-Glutathione is a short peptide consisting of cysteine, glutamate, and glycine. It is naturally present throughout the body and primarily functions as an antioxidant while supporting various processes in the central nervous system. It plays a particularly crucial role in the liver’s detoxification processes and serves as a scavenger of free radicals in the brain. There is substantial evidence linking the loss of glutathione to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as eye-related conditions like cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Reduced glutathione levels are believed to both result from the aging process and contribute to it, and chronic diseases can further deplete glutathione levels.

Oral supplementation of glutathione appears to be ineffective due to the breakdown of the peptide in the gastrointestinal system. While there is much discussion about using glutathione precursors like N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), research indicates that glutathione levels tend to decline with age due to reduced production capacity, often beginning in middle age. This reduced production capacity limits the effectiveness of NAC and other precursors in generating glutathione. The most compelling evidence suggests that glutathione is most effective when administered through injection or inhalation via nasal preparations. These methods provide a more direct and efficient means of replenishing glutathione levels in the body.

L-Glutathione Structure

Molecular Formula: C10H17N3O6S
Molecular Weight: 307.33 g/mol
PubChem CID: 124886
CAS No: 170-18-8
Alternative Names: Glutathione, Isethion, GSH

Glutathione Is an Antioxidant

L-Glutathione has long been acknowledged as one of the most vital low-molecular-weight antioxidants produced by cells in the body. Due to the sulfur present in the cysteine component of GSH, it possesses the ability to eliminate potent free radicals, including peroxides, nitrogen dioxide, HOCl (hypochlorous acid), and numerous other toxins. This is achieved through a fundamental redox reaction, thereby shielding cells, DNA, and extracellular matrix components from the harm caused by free radicals. It’s not only directly neutralizes free radicals but also aids other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, in their antioxidant functions.

Glutathione is present both within cells and as a secreted substance in the extracellular matrix. It is found in particularly high concentrations in lung tissue, the brain, and the liver. In humans, it is synthesized through a straightforward redox reaction.

L-Glutathione is indeed a crucial molecule in the human body with roles extending beyond its well-known function as an antioxidant. Here’s a summary of its various biological roles and its significance in aging and health:

1. Antioxidant Function: Glutathione is primarily recognized for its powerful antioxidant properties. It helps protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress, which is linked to aging and various diseases. It is neutralizes harmful free radicals and prevents cellular damage, making it an essential component of the body’s defense against oxidative damage.

2. Regulation of Inflammatory Responses: Glutathione is involved in the production of leukotrienes and prostaglandins, which are inflammatory mediators. It plays a vital role in regulating immune responses and the inflammatory cascade. Maintaining optimal levels can help modulate immune system activity and inflammation.

3. Cellular Metabolism: glutamic acid is a cofactor in several biochemical reactions and enhances the function of citrulline in the nitric oxide cycle. It is essential for proper protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum, aiding in the formation of disulfide bonds. This function is crucial for the correct structure and function of proteins, receptors, and enzymes.

4. Potential Neuromodulator: While it’s debated whether glutamic acid acts as a neurotransmitter, it does influence the redox states of receptors like the NMDA receptor. It also appears to activate ionotropic receptors and the purinergic P2X7 receptor in retinal Muller cells, which are involved in neurotransmitter regulation. This suggests a role in modulating neurotransmitter levels.

5. Aging and Disease: Glutathione deficiency has been associated with a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, HIV, cancer, tuberculosis, and more. Research indicates that measuring glutamic acid levels may serve as a marker of disease severity and progression. Maintaining optimal glutathione levels may contribute to overall health and the efficacy of treatments.

6. Role in Aging: Oxidative damage to cells is a significant contributor to the aging process. As individuals age, there is a decrease in the body’s capacity to synthesize glutamic acid, leading to increased vulnerability to oxidative damage. Supplementation with glutathione, particularly through injection or nasal delivery, has been explored as a means to counteract the effects of aging and oxidative stress.

7. Glutathione Supplementation: Glutathione is not well-absorbed through dietary sources or oral intake due to potential enzymatic breakdown in the gastrointestinal tract. While certain compounds like curcumin and N-acetyl cysteine may support glutamic acid levels, their effects may be limited. Injecting or inhaling glutathione is considered more effective for significantly increasing glutamic acid levels, though transdermal delivery systems are also being explored.

Research suggests that maintaining optimal glutathione levels is crucial for countering oxidative stress, supporting immune function, and potentially influencing the aging process. Further studies are needed to fully understand the therapeutic potential of glutathione supplementation and its impact on health and aging.

The role of glutathione in various aspects of health and disease is indeed multifaceted and complex. Here are some key takeaways regarding glutathione’s involvement in Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and its significance in brain health:

1. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Glutathione: Research indicates that Alzheimer’s disease has an oxidative component, with defective eradication of free radicals in the central nervous system potentially contributing to the risk of developing AD. The graph illustrates that a reduction in glutathione levels, which typically occurs around middle age in both mice and humans, is followed by an increase in free radical levels. This pattern suggests a possible link between declining glutathione levels and aspects of aging, including age-related cognitive decline.

2. Glutathione in Cancer: Glutathione plays a dual role in cancer, acting as both a protector and potentially a promoter of tumor progression. In the context of cancer treatment, glutathione can protect cancer cells from the effects of chemotherapy by scavenging toxins and free radicals. Researchers are exploring strategies to selectively reduce glutathione levels in tumor cells to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy. However, in preventing cancer development, glutathione can be beneficial by aiding in the detoxification of carcinogens, particularly in organs like the lungs exposed to harmful compounds such as those in cigarette smoke.

3. UV-Induced Skin Cancer Prevention: Oral glutathione supplementation has shown potential in preventing the development of skin cancer following exposure to UV light, as observed in studies involving rats. This suggests a protective effect of glutathione against UV-induced skin damage. The effectiveness of injection as a delivery method for even greater protection remains a subject of investigation.

4. Complex Role in the Brain: Glutathione levels are associated with various neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease (PD). Glutathione deficiency can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases, and research suggests it plays a role in iron-dependent cell death or ferroptosis, a process implicated in PD and other neurodegenerative disorders. Supplementation with glutathione or its precursors, such as N-acetyl cysteine, has been explored as a means to counteract neurological aging and potentially reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

In summary, glutathione’s functions are context-dependent, and its role can vary depending on the specific health condition or stage of disease. While glutathione can protect against oxidative damage and carcinogen detoxification, it can also promote tumor progression in established cancer. Further research is ongoing to understand how to leverage glutathione effectively in various health contexts. Additionally, glutathione’s significance in brain health highlights its potential as a therapeutic target for neurodegenerative diseases.

Source: PubMed

Glutathione is indeed a remarkable molecule with diverse functions and benefits throughout the body. Here are some key points summarizing its roles in various aspects of health and its potential benefits:

1. Brain Health: Glutamic acid levels decline with age, especially in the brain, making it more susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and damage following stress or insults. glutamic acid acts as an important defense against oxidative stress, and its supplementation, especially through direct injection or inhalation, can help protect the central nervous system.

2. Eye Health: Glutamic acid plays a crucial role in maintaining eye health, particularly in the retina and lens. It acts as an antioxidant, protects visual acuity, supports retinal health, and helps prevent conditions like cataracts and age-related visual changes. Research is ongoing to develop topical delivery methods for glutathione to directly benefit the eyes.

3. Cartilage Health: Glutamic acid contributes to maintaining cartilage health, which is essential for preventing osteoarthritis. Studies suggest that both supplementation and rest are important for maximizing glutathione function in cartilage. Proper exercise followed by adequate rest can promote joint health by boosting glutathione levels within the joints.

4. Skin Health: Glutamic acid supplementation has been shown to have a positive impact on skin health. It can reduce the appearance of wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, reduce age spots, and even lighten the skin by reducing melanin synthesis. This may contribute to a reduction in skin cancer incidence.

5. Immune System: While glutamic acid supplementation may not have a significant effect on the immune system during good health, it can be highly beneficial during illness. It boosts immune function, even in cases of viral infections like HIV. Glutathione supplementation can prepare the immune system for a robust response when needed.

6. General Anti-Aging Effects: Glutathione is considered a potent anti-aging compound due to its antioxidant properties and its ability to support various bodily functions. It can help reduce oxidative damage, support healthy aging, and potentially delay age-related changes.

It’s important to note that glutamic acid supplementation, particularly through injection or inhalation, may be more effective in increasing glutamic acid levels in the body compared to oral supplementation. Additionally, while glutathione appears to be generally safe, it’s crucial to use it for research purposes and consult with a healthcare professional before considering any form of supplementation.

Overall, glutamic acid holds great promise in promoting health and well-being, and ongoing research may uncover additional benefits and applications in various medical fields.

Article Author

The above literature was researched, edited and organized by Dr. Logan, M.D. Dr. Logan holds a doctorate degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a B.S. in molecular biology.


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