Inborn Errors in Glutathione Metabolism linked to Chronic Disease

In March of 2007, researchers in Sweden published work aimed at linking errors in glutathione metabolism to severe and chronic diseases such as anemia, immunological disorders, central nervous system disorders and metabolic diseases.  It seems that this information can be extrapolated to document some of the tendencies of Autistic patients as Glutathione metabolism has been shown to be impaired in children on the spetrum.  Now that more information is being discovered about the role of Glutathione, we can hopefully direct more treatment toward therapies that support it's activity.
Posted by: LeighAnn

Inborn errors in the metabolism of glutathione

Authors:  Ellinor Ristoff  and Agne Larsson

Karolinska Institute, Department of Pediatrics, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, SE-141 86 Stockholm, Sweden, Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2007,  2:16 doi:10.1186/1750-1172-2-16

The electronic version of this article can be found online at:


Glutathione is a tripeptide composed of glutamate, cysteine and glycine. Glutathione is present in millimolar concentrations in most mammalian cells and it is involved in several fundamental biological functions, including free radical scavenging, detoxification of xenobiotics and carcinogens, redox reactions, biosynthesis of DNA, proteins and leukotrienes, as well as neurotransmission/neuromodulation. Glutathione is metabolised via the gamma-glutamyl cycle, which is catalyzed by six enzymes. In man, hereditary deficiencies have been found in five of the six enzymes. Glutathione synthetase deficiency is the most frequently recognized disorder and, in its severe form, it is associated with hemolytic anemia, metabolic acidosis, 5-oxoprolinuria, central nervous system (CNS) damage and recurrent bacterial infections. Gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase deficiency is also associated with hemolytic anemia, and some patients with this disorder show defects of neuromuscular function and generalized aminoaciduria. Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase deficiency has been found in patients with CNS involvement and glutathionuria. 5-Oxoprolinase deficiency is associated with 5-oxoprolinuria but without a clear association with other symptoms. Dipeptidase deficiency has been described in one patient. All disorders are very rare and inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. Most of the mutations are leaky so that many patients have residual enzyme activity. Diagnosis is made by measuring the concentration of different metabolites in the gamma-glutamyl cycle, enzyme activity and in glutathione synthetase and gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase deficiency, also by mutation analysis. Prenatal diagnosis has been preformed in glutathione synthetase deficiency. The prognosis is difficult to predict, as few patients are known, but seems to vary significantly between different patients. The aims of the treatment of glutathione synthesis defects are to avoid hemolytic crises and to increase the defense against reactive oxygen species. No treatment has been recommended for gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, 5-oxoprolinase and dipeptidase deficiency.