An international team with researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has identified the reduced glutathione as a new protective agent against the most important neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Huntington's disease.
Glutathione is an antioxidant capable of preventing damage to cellular components. The study, carried out in animal and cellular models, opens the possibility of using formulations derived from reduced glutathione to treat neurodegenerative diseases, according to the researchers in an article published in the journal Cell Death & Differentiation.
"Many human diseases occur with a aberrant aggregation of certain proteins, and these types of pathologies are known by the generic name of proteinopathies, "explains Antonio Miranda Vizuete, a CSIC researcher at the Institute of Biomedicine in Seville (IBIS), mixed center of the CSIC, the University of Seville and the Junta de Andalucía.
Among those diseases are Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's or Huntington's disease, "but also pathologies that affect other organs such as cataracts that occur by aggregation of proteins in the lens of the eye, "adds the researcher, coordinator of the study together with the researcher Juan Cabello Pardos, of the Center for Biomedical Research in La Rioja.
The study, which combines single-cell models (yeast), multicellular (the worm Caenorhabditis elegans) and human cells, has shown that the inability to properly maintain reduced glutathione levels in the body causes an increase in protein aggregation caused by the inhibition of autophagy. The autophagy is one of the cellular mechanisms whereby the body eliminates those proteins that are not functional and that in many cases add irreversibly.
"The fact that the protective role of glutathione in these proteinopathies is not limited to the nervous system, but also occurs in other tissues such as muscle or intestine, it expands the therapeutic possibilities of glutathione in diseases such as amyloidosis or cataracts, "concludes Vizuete.