King's College London

Research portal

Glutathione and the intracellular labile heme pool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Early online date10 Dec 2020
Accepted/In press24 Nov 2020
E-pub ahead of print10 Dec 2020


King's Authors


One candidate for the cytosolic labile iron pool is iron(II)glutathione. There is also a widely held opinion that an equivalent cytosolic labile heme pool exists and that this pool is important for the intracellular transfer of heme. Here we describe a study designed to characterise conjugates that form between heme and glutathione. In contrast to hydrated iron(II), heme reacts with glutathione, under aerobic conditions, to form the stable hematin–glutathione complex, which contains iron(III). Thus, glutathione is clearly not the cytosolic ligand for heme, indeed we demonstrate that the rate of heme degradation is enhanced in the presence of glutathione. We suggest that the concentration of heme in the cytosol is extremely low and that intracellular heme transfer occurs via intracellular membrane structures. Should any heme inadvertently escape into the cytosol, it would be rapidly conjugated to glutathione thereby protecting the cell from the toxic effects of heme.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454