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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Oct;1823(10):1767-77. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.06.019. Epub 2012 Jun 23.

Glutathione and modulation of cell apoptosis.

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Department of Molecular & Cellular Physiology, Louisiana University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA 71130, USA.


Apoptosis is a highly organized form of cell death that is important for tissue homeostasis, organ development and senescence. To date, the extrinsic (death receptor mediated) and intrinsic (mitochondria derived) apoptotic pathways have been characterized in mammalian cells. Reduced glutathione, is the most prevalent cellular thiol that plays an essential role in preserving a reduced intracellular environment. glutathione protection of cellular macromolecules like deoxyribose nucleic acid proteins and lipids against oxidizing, environmental and cytotoxic agents, underscores its central anti-apoptotic function. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species can oxidize cellular glutathione or induce its extracellular export leading to the loss of intracellular redox homeostasis and activation of the apoptotic signaling cascade. Recent evidence uncovered a novel role for glutathione involvement in apoptotic signaling pathways wherein post-translational S-glutathiolation of protein redox active cysteines is implicated in the potentiation of apoptosis. In the present review we focus on the key aspects of glutathione redox mechanisms associated with apoptotic signaling that includes: (a) changes in cellular glutathione redox homeostasis through glutathione oxidation or GSH transport in relation to the initiation or propagation of the apoptotic cascade, and (b) evidence for S-glutathiolation in protein modulation and apoptotic initiation.

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