Glutathone and glutathione ethyl ester supplementation of mice alter glutathione homeostasis during exercise

Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Li Li Ji

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39 Scopus citations


The present study examined the effect of glutathione (GSH) and glutathione ethyl ester (GSH-E) supplementation on GSH homeostasis and exercise-induced oxidative stress. Male Swiss-Webster mice were randomly divided into 4 groups: starved for 24 h and injected with GSH or GSH-E (6 mmol/kg body wt, i.p.) 1 h before exercise, starved for 24 h and injected with saline (S); and having free access to food and injected with saline (C). Half of each group of mice was killed either after an acute bout of exhaustive swimming (E) or after rest (R). Plasma GSH concentration was 100- 160% (P < 0.05) higher in GSH mice vs. C or S mice at rest, whereas GSH-E injection had no effect. Plasma GSH was not affected by exercise in C or S mice, but was 44 and 34% lower (P < 0.05) in E vs. R mice with GSH or GSH-E injection, respectively. S, GSH- and GSH-E-treated mice had significantly lower liver GSH concentration and the GSH:glutathione disulfide (GSSG) ratio than C mice. Hepatic and renal GSH and the GSH:GSSG ratio were significantly lower in E vs. R mice in all groups. GSH-E-treated mice had a significantly smaller exercise-induced decrease in GSH vs. C, S, and GSH-treated mice and no difference in the GSH:GSSG ratio in the kidney. Activities of γ- glutamylcysteine synthetase and γ-glutamyltranspeptidase in the liver and kidney were not affected by either GSH treatment or exercise. GSH concentration and the GSH:GSSG ratio in quadriceps muscle were not different among C, S and GSH-treated mice, but significantly lower in GSH-E-treated mice (P < 0.05). Hepatic malondialdehyde (MDA) content was greater in exercised mice in all but GSH-E-treated groups. GSH and GSH-E increased MDA levels in the kidney of E vs. R mice, but attenuated exercise-induced lipid peroxidation in muscle. Swim endurance time was ~2 h longer in GSH (351 ± 22 min) and GSH-E (348 ± 27) than S mice (237 ± 17). We conclude that 1) acute GSH and GSH-E supplementation at the given doses does not increase tissue GSH content or redox status; 2) both GSH and GSH-E improve endurance performance and prevent muscle lipid peroxidation during prolonged exercise; and 3) while both compounds may impose a metabolic and oxidative stress to the kidney, this side effect is smaller with GSH-E supplementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2420-2426
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1998


  • Antioxidant enzyme
  • Exercise
  • Glutathione
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Mouse


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