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Keywords:

  • antioxidation;
  • cancer;
  • depletion;
  • glutathione;
  • conjugation;
  • detoxification;
  • polymorphism

Abstract

Glutathione is an abundant natural tripeptide found within almost all cells. Glutathione is highly reactive and is often found conjugated to other molecules via its sulfhydryl moiety. It instils several vital roles within a cell including antioxidation, maintenance of the redox state, modulation of the immune response and detoxification of xenobiotics. With respect to cancer, glutathione metabolism is able to play both protective and pathogenic roles. It is crucial in the removal and detoxification of carcinogens, and alterations in this pathway, can have a profound effect on cell survival. However, by conferring resistance to a number of chemotherapeutic drugs, elevated levels of glutathione in tumour cells are able to protect such cells in bone marrow, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers. Here we present a number of studies investigating the role of glutathione in promoting cancer, impeding chemotherapy, and the use of glutathione modulation to enhance anti-neoplastic therapy. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.