Role of cysteine and glutathione in signal transduction, immunopathology and cachexia

W. Dröge, V. Hack, R. Breitkreutz, E. Holm, G. Shubinsky, E. Schmid, D. Galter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Abnormally low plasma cystine levels have been found in the late asymptomatic stage of HIV infection and several other diseases associated with progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass. The phenomenon is commonly associated with a low NK cell activity, skeletal muscle wasting or muscle fatigue and increased rates of urea production. In its extreme form, the negative nitrogen balance leads to overt cachexia and is associated with severe debilitation and psychological stress. The low NK cell activity is in most cases not life-threatening but may be disasterous in HIV infection, because it may compromise the initially stable balance between immune system and virus and trigger disease progression. This review summarizes briefly (i) the role of cysteine in the physiological regulation of body cell mass and the development of skeletal muscle wasting, and (ii) the role of glutathione in the immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


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