Glutathione related disorders: do seaweeds have potential for cure?
Research on glutathione metabolism has largerly contributed to the advancement of varied disciplines of science over the past century. This ubiquitous wonder molecule distributed in plants animals and microbes has a plethora of functions essential for antioxidant defense, redox balance and cellular regulation to name a few. Dysregulation of glutathione homeostasis and metabolism results in a number of human diseases, including cancer, ageing related disorders, inflammatory, neurodegenerative, metabolic as well as liver diseases. Numerous therapeutic drugs have shown adverse health effects. Amidst the chaos a natural source of Glutathione may be regarded as a ray of hope towards successful management of glutathione related disorders. Seaweeds are rich in bioactive compounds which have important pharmaceutical and biomedical values. Seaweeds specifically grow in inter-tidal zones and deep sea coast lines and are thus exposed to constant variation in their habitat in terms of changing oxygen level due to tides, season, temperature, photoperiod and salinity. Thus they are better adapted to environmental stress which is one of the factors leading to oxidative stress and thus presumed to have better antioxidative defense. While humans have taken limited advantage of natural populations of seaweeds for centuries, it is in recent years that we have come to realize the potential of seaweeds. Seaweeds have the potential to produce a vast array of products ranging from foodstuffs, industrial chemicals to compounds with therapeutic and bioremediation activity virtually from a untapped source. They are also reported to have natural assemblages of glutathione. Thus, the demand of the day is to extract the naturally occurring glutathione and formulate it as a drug (keeping in view its low bioavailability and transient cellular transport) which would act as a promising cure for a variety of disorders.
GSH has wide applications as far bio medical and pharmaceutical aspects of diseases are concerened. Due to its involvement in central regulatory and metabolic pathways of our body, the modulation of it can play a major role in combating disease conditions. Seaweeds are a potential reserve of naturally occurring antioxidants and have been used since times immemorial in diets and formulations in many parts of the world. The only drawbrack being the adverse effects of phytochelatins in concentrating metals. If the active principles from seaweeds can be extracted and formulated to serve as a source of GSH, it would overrule the adverse effects of metal chelation and can play an important role in regulating GSH levels in pathological conditions. Yet another scope for preparation of a formulation of theses active principles which could escape the gut lining/ assimilatory pathway would hold enormous possibilities towards increased uptake of oral glutathione and thereby help medical science explore new possibilities towards treating glutathione related disorders.
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Annie Grace Sarah
Asian Journal of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Science