The primary role of cellular gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT) is to metabolize extracellular reduced glutathione (GSH), allowing for precursor amino acids to be assimilated and reutilized for intracellular GSH synthesis. Paradoxically, recent experimental studies indicate that cellular GGT may also be involved in the generation of reactive oxygen species in the presence of iron or other transition metals. Although the relationship between cellular GGT and serum GGT is not known and serum GGT activity has been commonly used as a marker for excessive alcohol consumption or liver diseases, our series of epidemiological studies consistently suggest that serum GGT within its normal range might be an early and sensitive enzyme related to oxidative stress. For example, serum and dietary antioxidant vitamins had inverse, dose-response relations to serum GGT level within its normal range, whereas dietary heme iron was positively related to serum GGT level. More importantly, serum GGT level within its normal range positively predicted F2-isoprostanes, an oxidative damage product of arachidonic acid, and fibrinogen and C-reactive protein, markers of inflammation, which were measured 5 or 15 years later, in dose-response manners. These findings suggest that strong associations of serum GGT with many cardiovascular risk factors and/or events might be explained by a mechanism related to oxidative stress. Even though studies on serum and/or cellular GGT is at a beginning stage, our epidemiological findings suggest that serum GGT might be useful in studying oxidative stress-related issues in both epidemiological and clinical settings.
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Oxidative stress