Role of magnetic resonance spectroscopy in cerebral glutathione quantification for youth mental health: A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


External organisations

  • School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences; University of Birmingham; Edgbaston Birmingham B15 2TT UK
  • Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • Institute for Mental Health, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.
  • Department of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK; Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne & Melbourne Health, Melbourne, Australia.
  • Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


AIM: Oxidative stress is strongly implicated in many psychiatric disorders, which has resulted in the development of new interventions to attempt to perturb this pathology. A great deal of attention has been paid to glutathione, which is the brain's dominant antioxidant and plays a fundamental role in removing free radicals and other reactive oxygen species. Measurement of glutathione concentration in the brain in vivo can provide information on redox status and potential for oxidative stress to develop. Glutathione might also represent a marker to assess treatment response.

METHODS: This paper systematically reviews studies that assess glutathione concentration (measured using magnetic resonance spectroscopy) in various mental health conditions.

RESULTS: There is limited evidence showing altered brain glutathione concentration in mental disorders; the best evidence suggests glutathione is decreased in depression, but is not altered in bipolar disorder. The review then outlines the various methodological options for acquiring glutathione data using spectroscopy.

CONCLUSIONS: Analysis of the minimum effect size measurable in existing studies indicates that increased number of participants is required to measure subtle but possibly important differences and move the field forward.

Bibliographic note

© 2019 The Authors Early Intervention in Psychiatry Published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.


Original languageEnglish
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Early online date31 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2019


  • glutathione, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, youth mental health