GSH is an extremely important cell protectant. It directly quenches reactive hydroxyl free radicals, other oxygen-centered free radicals, and radical centers on DNA and other biomolecules. GSH is a primary protectant of skin, lens, cornea, and retina against radiation damage and other biochemical foundations of P450 detoxification in the liver, kidneys, lungs, intestinal, epithelia and other organs.
GSH is the essential cofactor for many enzymes that require thiol-reducing equivalents, and helps keep redox-sensitive active sites on enzyme in the necessary reduced state. Higher-order thiol cell systems, the metallothioneins, thioredoxins and other redox regulator proteins are ultimately regulated by GSH levels—and the GSH/GSSG redox ratio. GSH/GSSG balance is crucial to homeostasis—stabilizing the cellular biomolecular spectrum, and facilitating cellular performance and survival.
GSH and its metabolites also interface with energetics and neurotransmitter syntheses through several prominent metabolic pathways. GSH availability down-regulates the pro-inflammatory potential of leukotrienes and other eicosanoids. Recently discovered S-nitroso metabolites, generated in vivo from GSH and NO (nitric oxide), further diversify GSH’s impact on metabolism.