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Positive effects of thiol (SH) groups


  • act as free radical traps of highly reactive hydroxyl, nitroxyl and other radicals.
  • act as an antioxidant 2SH + ½ O2 = S-S + H20.
  • act as nitrate traps.
  • in metal chelation; sulfur ligands sequester peroxidant Cu2+ and Fe2+ and potentially toxic As3+, Cd2+, Co3+, Hg2+, Pb2+ and Se2+.
  • conjugate and detoxify xenobiotics and quench potentially toxic free radicals forming soluble and inactive derivates. These derivatives are more readily eliminated by the kidneys than the parent compounds.
  • inactivate microbial and plant toxins containing disulfide bond.
  • prevent the formation of Amadori compound, which is one of the Maillard reaction compounds (e.g. lysine, which is an essential amino acid, is lost in that reaction).
  • prevent the formation of lysinoalanine in heating by reacting with the double bond of dehydroalanine and prevent the reaction with lysine.
  • prevent the non-enzymatic and enzymatic browning.
  • detoxify aflatoxins.
  • detoxify acrylamide and -nitrile by reacting with its double bond.
  • neutralize acetaldehyde formed from ethanol in gastrointestinal tract.



Hadley, W. M. (1975), The chemistry and biochemistry of the sulfhydryl groups in amino acids, peptides and proteins. By MENDEL FRIEDMAN. Pergamon Press, Elmsford, NY 10523, 1973. vii + 485 pp., J. Pharm. Sci. 1975, 64 (4), pp 715.