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Glutathione monoethyl ester (L-gamma-glutamyl-L-cysteinylglycyl ethyl ester), in contrast to glutathione itself, is effectively transported into many types of cells. The ester is converted intracellularly into glutathione. Intraperitoneal injection of 35S-labeled ester into mice was followed by rapid appearance of isotope in the glutathione of liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, and heart; the glutathione levels of these tissues also increased. Oral administration of the ester to mice also increased cellular glutathione levels. Relatively little extracellular deesterification was found. Transport of glutathione ester into human erythrocytes and intracellular conversion to glutathione was observed. The findings suggest that the glutathione ester will be useful as a radioprotecting agent and in the prevention and treatment of toxicity due to certain foreign compounds and oxygen. The ester may be useful in experimental work on glutathione transport, metabolism, and function, and in related studies on oxygen toxicity, radiation, mutagenesis, and ageing. Methods for the preparation of glutathione monoethyl ester and several related compounds are given.


Journal article


Arch Biochem Biophys

Publication Date





538 - 548


Administration, Oral, Animals, Biological Transport, Active, Blood Cells, Glutathione, Kidney, Liver, Male, Mice, Sulfur, Tissue Distribution