VERONA, ITALY. Intermittent claudication (peripheral artery disease) manifests itself by pain in the calves even after walking relatively short distances. It is relieved by rest and is caused by an inadequate blood supply to the leg muscles due to atherosclerosis of the arteries feeding the legs. There is increasing evidence that oxidative stress is an important cause of atherosclerosis.
Researchers at the University of Verona now report that intravenous injections of glutathione can markedly reduce the symptoms of intermittent claudication. Reduced glutathione, along with vitamin C, is the most important water-soluble antioxidant and is vital in protecting the insides of cells against oxidation and free radical attacks. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involved 40 patients (35 men and 5 women between the ages of 55 and 70 years) who were randomized to receive either 646 mg of glutathione in 250 ml of 0.9 per cent sodium chloride or 250 ml of the sodium chloride solution twice a day for five consecutive days.
The patients were tested on a treadmill to determine their maximum pain-free walking distance and also
underwent plethysmography to determine blood flow in their legs. The patients given glutathione increased
their pain-free walking distance by 37 per cent (from 143 m to 196 m) and also had a very significant
increase in blood flow in the leg (from 2.8 to 9.3 ml per 100 ml/min). There were no significant changes in
either walking distance or blood flow in the placebo group. The researchers conclude that antioxidant
treatment (glutathione) can increase pain-free walking distance in patients with intermittent