Glutathione is an ubiquitous compound found in our bodies. Aside from its many ascribed biologic functions, it has also been implicated in skin lightening.
We review in vitro and in vivo studies thatshow evidence of its involvement in the melanogenic pathway and shed light on the its anti-melanogenic effect. Proposed mechanisms of action include: (a) direct inactivation of the enzyme tyrosinase by binding with the copper-containing active site of the enzyme; (b) mediating the switch mechanism
from eumelanin to phaeomelanin production; (c) quenching of free radicals and peroxides that contribute to tyrosinase activation and melanin
formation; and d) modulation of depigmenting abilities of melanocytotoxic agents.
These concepts supported by the various experimental evidence presented form basis for future research in the use of glutathione in the treatment of pigmentary disorders.
Melanogenesis is a highly complex process influenced by various internal and external factors.
Sulfhydryl-containing compounds are determinants of the quality of pigmentation produced by mammalian melanocytes. Glutathione, the most
abundant thiol in the body, is believed instrumental in producing skin lightening.