Glutathione (GSH) is a tripeptide (?-glutamyl-cysteinylglycine) synthesized in most cells. The level of GSH in erythrocytes is a sensitive indicator of intracellular GSH status, the overall health of cells and of the ability to endure toxic challenges. GSH is the most abundant non-protein thiol in mammalian cells. It is involved in many biological processes including detoxification of xenobiotics, removal of oxygen-reactive species, regulation of the redox state of cells and the oxidative state of important protein sulfhydryl groups, and regulation of immune function.
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Low levels of GSH have been reported in cardiovascular disease, cancer, AIDS, autism, alcoholism and debilitating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzhiemer's and Parkinson's. It has also been associated with chronic retention of potential toxic elements such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, manganese and iron, as well as chemicals and some drugs. Intracellular GSH biosynthesis and intracellular levels can be upregulated as a protective mechanism.Some factors that result in increased biosynthesis and high normal erythrocyte GSH levels include, but are not limited to, moderate alcohol consumption, smoking, regular physical exercise and acute exposure to toxic metals