Apoptosis and glutathione: Beyond an antioxidant

R. Franco, J. A. Cidlowski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

528 Scopus citations


Apoptosis is a conserved homeostatic process critical for organ and tissue morphogenesis, development, and senescence. This form of programmed cell death also participates in the etiology of several human diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative, and autoimmune disorders. Although the signaling pathways leading to the progression of apoptosis have been extensively characterized, recent studies highlight the regulatory role of changes in the intracellular milieu (permissive apoptotic environment) in the efficient activation of the cell death machinery. In particular, glutathione (GSH) depletion is a common feature of apoptotic cell death triggered by a wide variety of stimuli including activation of death receptors, stress, environmental agents, and cytotoxic drugs. Although initial studies suggested that GSH depletion was only a byproduct of oxidative stress generated during cell death, recent discoveries suggest that GSH depletion and post-translational modifications of proteins through glutathionylation are critical regulators of apoptosis. Here, we reformulate these emerging paradigms into our current understanding of cell death mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1303-1314
Number of pages12
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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