The therapeutic value of intravenous glutathione in the treatment of acute poisoning and chronic liver disease has been clinically recognized. More recently, oral glutathione has been investigated for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Glutathione is an antioxidant that can be found in a variety of plants including asparagus, avocado, spinach, okra, broccoli, cantaloupe, tomatoes, carrots, grapefruit, oranges, zucchini, strawberries, watermelon and many other fruits and vegetables. It is also highly concentrated in freshly cooked meats. However, food sources of glutathione make up only a small fraction of the body's total glutathione levels, as most are synthesized endogenously by the body itself at the cellular level. In this case, the amino acid precursors of glutathione - glutamic acid, glycine and cysteine - must also be obtained in adequate amounts from the diet.
In recent years, emerging research has shown that oral glutathione supplementation, especially in protein-bound form, can actually have beneficial effects on the redox potential in cells, which play a role in glutathione supplementation in humans, including In the treatment of NAFLD.
In one study, 34 Japanese patients diagnosed with NAFLD (but without hepatic decompensation) were prospectively evaluated over 7 months. Twenty-nine of them completed the study: 14 men and 15 women, mean age 56.0±13.3 years). During the first 3 months, patients participated in the implementation of targeted lifestyle adjustments, including diet and exercise; this was followed by oral administration of 300 mg of glutathione daily for the next 4 months. Participants underwent a clinical assessment before and after glutathione treatment, measuring and testing liver fat, fibrosis and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels.
Following a 4-month glutathione treatment phase, the following biomarkers were significantly reduced:
· Non-esterified fatty acids
When ALT responders were compared with non-responders, the researchers found that ALT responders were younger and did not have severe diabetes. Overall, these preliminary findings suggest the potential benefit of oral glutathione to improve liver metabolic function in early-stage NAFLD patients without decompensated cirrhosis.