Pitfalls in the analysis of the physiological antioxidant glutathione (GSH) and its disulfide (GSSG) in biological samples: An elephant in the room

Daniela Giustarini, Dimitrios Tsikas, Graziano Colombo, Aldo Milzani, Isabella Dalle-Donne, Paolo Fanti, Ranieri Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Glutathione (GSH) is the most abundant low-molecular-mass thiol within cells and one of the major antioxidant compounds in body fluids. Under pro-oxidant conditions, two GSH molecules donate one electron each and are converted into glutathione disulfide (GSSG). The GSH/GSSG molar ratio is considered a powerful index of oxidative stress and disease risk. Despite high interest in GSH/GSSG titration as measures of thiol redox balance, no broad agreement has yet been reached as to the best pre-analytical and analytical methods for the quantitation of these molecules in biological samples. Consequently, measured concentrations of GSH and GSSG and calculated GSH/GSSG molar ratios vary widely among laboratories. Here, we describe in detail the main analytical and pre-analytical problems related to the artificial oxidation of the sulfhydryl (SH) group of GSH that occur during sample manipulation. We underline how this aspect has been neglected for long time after its first description more than fifty years ago. Finally, selected reliable procedures and methods to measure GSH and GSSG in biological samples are discussed.

Keywords

  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione disulfide
  • Oxidative stress
  • Protocols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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