Glutathione is a common antioxidant in animals, plants and some bacteria. It can remove reactive oxygen species, prevent lipid peroxidation, help metabolize peroxide and heavy metals, and prevent harmful substances from causing damage to cells and DNA, so it is widely used in medicine, food and cosmetics and other fields.

As the most important small molecule active oligopeptids in the antioxidant defense system in vivo, it is divided into oxidized glutathione (GSSG) and reduced glutathione (GSH).

reduced glutathione (GSH)
oxidized glutathione

Relationship between glutathione and GSSG

The ratio of reduced glutathione to GSSG in cells is an important index to test the level of cellular oxidative stress. The higher the ratio of GSSG to GSH, the higher the degree of cellular oxidation.

In normal cells and tissues, more than 90% of GSH, and the rest is the GSSG disulfide GSSG.

Moreover, GSSG and GSH in vivo are usually in stable homeostasis under the regulation of enzymes.

In other words, when the body accumulates more GSSH due to the free radical scavenging effect of GSH, GSH reductase reduces GSSG to GSH.

The difference between GSSG and GSH

  1. In the anti-oxidation process, GSH removes free radicals through the transfer of electrons and protons, while GSSG itself does not remove free radicals, and only participates in maintaining the dynamic balance of the two forms of glutathione.

In this biochemical reaction system, GSSG may participate in other biochemical reactions besides maintaining the stable homeostasis of glutathione as a substrate of GSH reductase.

Schematic diagram of antioxidant function of GSH
Schematic diagram of antioxidant function of GSH
  1. In the current field of cosmetics, GSSG widely used because its odor slightly lighter than reduced glutathione GSH.

However, structurally, the active group in GSSG – mercaptan (-SH) has converted to disulfide bonds, and theoretically the reduction ability is not possible.

3, because glutathione has the ability to reduce, and melanin formed through a series of enzymatic oxidation reactions.

Therefore, GSH can reduce the oxidized dopa quinone in the process of melanin formation, convert it into glutathione dopa, and then produce a lighter color of fusomelanin instead of eumelanin, so as to have a whitening effect.

Schematic diagram of the inhibitory mechanism of reduced glutathione on melanin production

Brief summary

GSSG and GSH widely used in cosmetic formulations because of their antioxidant, tyrosinase and melanin inhibiting properties, especially GSSG, which preferred by formulators and consumers because of its lighter odor.

However, there is no denying that the activity and efficacy of GSH is superior to that of oxidized glutathione (GSSSG). Both can said to have their own weaknesses and strengths.


By gshworld

GSHWORLD is China Biological API Manufacturer Suppliers pharma. China Glutathione powder supplier & Glutathione manufacturer raw material Factory.