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Glutathione and diabetes



Diabetes has become one of the most prominent chronic diseases in many of the world’s populations. Whilst type 1 is genetic in origin, type 2 is primarily a lifestyle disease. Diabetes and the associated hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose) is related to an increase in the production of free radicals by a process called glycation. In essence, it is a process whereby the elevated blood glucose binds to proteins, in turn creating free radicals. The free radicals produced by glycation can be up to 50 times higher than normal and are implicated in ageing and tissue damage.[1]

Additionally, both type 1 and 2 diabetes are associated with low glutathione. [1-9] The resulting oxidative stress and depletion of the cellular antioxidant defense system contributes to the progress of coronary artery disease. This plays a major role in the development of diabetes and its ongoing complications.

Glutathione in its role as a free radical scavenger has been shown to drastically reduce the occurrence and duration of oxidative stress. Enhancing cellular glutathione is therefore of paramount importance in managing diabetes and reducing negative medical outcomes.


  1. Whillier, S., P.W. Kuchel, and J.E. Raftos, Oxidative Stress in Type II Diabetes Mellitus and the Role of the Endogenous Antioxidant Glutathione, in Role of the Adipocyte in Development of Type 2 Diabetes, C. Croniger, Editor. 2011.
  2. Robertson, R.P., et al., Glucose toxicity in beta-cells: type 2 diabetes, good radicals gone bad, and the glutathione connection. Diabetes, 2003. 52(3): p. 581-7.
  3. Ballatori, N., et al., Glutathione dysregulation and the etiology and progression of human diseases. Biological Chemistry, 2009. 390(3): p. 191-214.
  4. Sekhar, R.V., et al., Glutathione Synthesis Is Diminished in Patients With Uncontrolled Diabetes and Restored by Dietary Supplementation With Cysteine and Glycine. Diabetes Care, 2011. 34(1): p. 162-167.
  5. Sheikh-Ali, M., J.M. Chehade, and A.D. Mooradian, The Antioxidant Paradox in Diabetes Mellitus. American Journal of Therapeutics, 2011. 18(3): p. 266-278 10.1097/MJT.0b013e3181b7badf.
  6. van der Crabben, S.N., et al., Erythrocyte glutathione concentration and production during hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, and endotoxemia in healthy humans. Metabolism, 2011. 60(1): p. 99-106.
  7. Furfaro, A.L., et al., Impaired synthesis contributes to diabetes-induced decrease in liver glutathione. International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 2012. 29(5): p. 899-905.
  8. Pastore, A., et al., All glutathione forms are depleted in blood of obese and type 1 diabetic children. Pediatric Diabetes, 2012. 13(3): p. 272-277.
  9. Darmaun, D., et al., Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes is associated with altered glutathione homeostasis in adolescents: apparent resistance to N-acetylcysteine supplementation. Pediatr Diabetes, 2008. 9(6): p. 577-82.


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