-glutamyl-L-cysteinyl-glycine; GSH) in cancer cells is particularly relevant in the regulation of carcinogenic mechanisms; sensitivity against cytotoxic drugs, ionizing radiations, and some cytokines; DNA synthesis; and cell proliferation and death. The intracellular thiol redox state (controlled by GSH) is one of the endogenous effectors involved in regulating the mitochondrial permeability transition pore complex and, in consequence, thiol oxidation can be a causal factor in the mitochondrion-based mechanism that leads to cell death. Nevertheless GSH depletion is a common feature not only of apoptosis but also of other types of cell death. Indeed rates of GSH synthesis and fluxes regulate its levels in cellular compartments, and potentially influence switches among different mechanisms of death. How changes in gene expression, post-translational modifications of proteins, and signaling cascades are implicated will be discussed. Furthermore, this review will finally analyze whether GSH depletion may facilitate cancer cell death under in vivo
conditions, and how this can be applied to cancer therapy.