Immunocal® and preservation of glutathione as a novel neuroprotective strategy for degenerative disorders of the nervous system.
ABSTRACT Oxidative stress and glutathione (GSH) depletion are both recognized as significant contributors to the pathogenesis of many devastating neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, mitochondrial dysfunction leads to the aberrant production and accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are capable of oxidizing key cellular proteins, lipids, and DNA, ultimately triggering cell death. In addition to other roles that it plays in the cell, GSH functions as a critical scavenger of these ROS. Therefore, GSH depletion exacerbates cell damage due to free radical generation. Strategies that increase or preserve the levels of intracellular GSH have been shown to act in a neuroprotective manner, suggesting that augmentation of the available GSH pool may be a promising therapeutic target for neurodegeneration. This review discusses the capacity of a cystine-rich, whey protein supplement (Immunocal®) to enhance the de novo synthesis of GSH in neurons, and highlights its potential as a novel therapeutic approach to mitigate the oxidative damage that underlies the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, this review discusses various patents from 1993 to 2012 both with Immunocal® and other methods that modulate GSH in neurodegeneration.