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Curr Eye Res. 2006 Jan;31(1):1-11.

Glutathione-related enzymes and the eye.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Splaiul Independentei 296, Bucharest, Romania.


Glutathione and the related enzymes belong to the defence system protecting the eye against chemical and oxidative stress. This review focuses on GSH and two key enzymes, glutathione reductase and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase in lens, cornea, and retina. Lens contains a high concentration of reduced glutathione, which maintains the thiol groups in the reduced form. These contribute to lens complete transparency as well as to the transparent and refractive properties of the mammalian cornea, which are essential for proper image formation on the retina. In cornea, gluthatione also plays an important role in maintaining normal hydration level, and in protecting cellular membrane integrity. In retina, glutathione is distributed in the different types of retinal cells. Intracellular enzyme, glutathione reductase, involved in reducing the oxidized glutathione has been found at highest activity in human and primate lenses, as compared to other species. Besides the enzymes directly involved in maintaining the normal redox status of the cell, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase which catalyzes the first reaction of the pentose phosphate pathway, plays a key role in protection of the eye against reactive oxygen species. Cornea has a high activity of the pentose phosphate pathway and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity. Glycation, the non-enzymic reaction between a free amino group in proteins and a reducing sugar, slowly inactivates gluthathione-related and other enzymes. In addition, glutathione can be also glycated. The presence of glutathione, and of the related enzymes has been also reported in other parts of the eye, such as ciliary body and trabecular meshwork, suggesting that the same enzyme systems are present in all tissues of the eye to generate NADPH and to maintain gluthatione in the reduced form. Changes of glutathione and related enzymes activity in lens, cornea, retina and other eye tissues, occur with ageing, cataract, diabetes, irradiation and administration of some drugs.

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