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Anal Biochem. 2017 Jul 15;529:127-143. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2016.12.022. Epub 2016 Dec 26.

Glutathione in the human brain: Review of its roles and measurement by magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

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Neuroscience Research Australia, Barker St Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia; School of Medical Science, The University of New South Wales, NSW, 2052, Australia.
Division of Informatics, Imaging and Data Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, UK. Electronic address:


We review the transport, synthesis and catabolism of glutathione in the brain as well as its compartmentation and biochemistry in different brain cells. The major reactions involving glutathione are reviewed and the factors limiting its availability in brain cells are discussed. We also describe and critique current methods for measuring glutathione in the human brain using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and review the literature on glutathione measurements in healthy brains and in neurological, psychiatric, neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental conditions In summary: Healthy human brain glutathione concentration is ∼1-2 mM, but it varies by brain region, with evidence of gender differences and age effects; in neurological disease glutathione appears reduced in multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease and epilepsy, while being increased in meningiomas; in psychiatric disease the picture is complex and confounded by methodological differences, regional effects, length of disease and drug-treatment. Both increases and decreases in glutathione have been reported in depression and schizophrenia. In Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment there is evidence for a decrease in glutathione compared to age-matched healthy controls. Improved methods to measure glutathione in vivo will provide better precision in glutathione determination and help resolve the complex biochemistry of this molecule in health and disease.


Brain; Glutathione; Glyoxalase; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Neurological disease; Psychiatric disease

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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