Methylation is also required to clear environmental toxins from the body. This process involves conjugating methyl groups to the toxins prior to removal, as well as, supporting the production of glutathione and metalloproteins. Glutathione is a highly sulfated protein involved in inflammatory control and reduction reactions,catalyzed by glutathione S-transferase in cytosol, microsomes and mitochondria. It is intimately involved in producing and controlling leukotrienes.
• It is the major endogenous antioxidant produced by the cells, participating directly in the neutralization of free radicals and reactive oxygen compounds, as well as maintaining exogenous antioxidants such as vitamins C and E in their reduced (active) forms.
• Regulation of the nitric oxide cycle, which is critical for life but can be problematic if unregulated.
• Through direct conjugation, it detoxifies many xenobiotics (foreign compounds) and carcinogens, both organic and inorganic. This includes heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, and arsenic.
• It is essential for the immune system to exert its full potential, e.g., (1) modulating antigen presentation to lymphocytes, thereby influencing cytokine production and type of response (cellular or humoral) that develops, (2) enhancing proliferation of lymphocytes, thereby increasing magnitude of response, (3) enhancing killing activity of cytotoxic T cells and NK cells, and (4) regulating apoptosis, thereby maintaining control of the immune response.
• It plays a fundamental role in numerous metabolic and biochemical reactions such as DNA synthesis and repair, protein synthesis, prostaglandin synthesis, amino acid transport, and enzyme activation. Thus, every system in the body can be affected by the state of the glutathione system, especially the immune system, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system and the lungs.