Superoxide dismutase (SOD) carries out several important redox reactions in defense against oxidative stress in an organism. Its most potent reaction involves the partitioning of the superoxide (O2) radical into hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or pure molecular oxygen (O2). An enzyme found in all living cells, SOD is produced as a byproduct of oxygen metabolism and is thus recommended as a curative agent in oxygen radical scavenging therapy.
SOD is also a metalloenzyme. This means that it is a defensive entity against reactive oxygen species-related injury via superoxide dismutation and alternate oxidation-reduction of metal ions. There are four distinct groups of SODs: Copper-Zinc-SOD (Cu, Zn-SOD), Iron SOD (Fe-SOD), Manganese SOD (Mn-SOD), and Nickel SOD. In humans and most chordates, SODs can be found in the cytoplasm, mitochondria, and the extracellular matrix (ECM) and cell surfaces.
As was previously mentioned, SODs constitute an imperative line of defense against oxidative stress, meaning they are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. The enzyme has also been clinically indicated to prevent precancerous cell changes. Disorders related to SOD levels, which inevitably decline as an organism ages, have been linked to several chronic human health conditions, such as cystic fibrosis (CF), interstitial cystitis, gout, malignant breast disease, neuronal apoptosis, AIDS, nephritic syndrome, and various types of cancer.
Superoxide dismutase can be administered orally, and is often ingested for cosmetic or anti-aging purposes. However, there is no clinical evidence to indicate the efficacy of oral absorption of SODs.
Conversely, SODs can be administered via injection in order to combat swelling and inflammation. It is frequently utilized in the treatment of sports injuries, as well as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Superoxide Dismutase Benefits and Uses
Superoxide dismutase has been indicated as an anti-aging enzyme due to its ability to ameliorate free radical damage to skin and hair cells. Specifically, its ability to treat the type of oxidative stress implicated in androgenetic alopecia, or pattern hair loss, has been clinically evaluated. In a study published by The Journal of Medicine and Life, researchers evaluated SOD levels in twenty-seven patients with androgenetic alopecia (against twenty-five age-matched controls). Resultant plasma levels indicated decreased antioxidant activity as well as significantly decreased SOD levels in patients suffering from androgenetic hair loss. Consequently researchers concluded that there may be scope for SOD therapy in the treatment of alopecia, but that further clinical evaluation was needed.
A study published by The Journal of Dermatological Science yielded similar results. Researchers assessed the status of oxidative stress in the scalps of patients with the autoimmune inflammatory disease Alopecia areata (AA). Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and superoxide dismutase levels were measured in tissues from the scalps of ten patients suffering from AA, and results indicated that SOD levels were significantly higher than those of control patients, though these increased levels were unable to protect patients against reactive oxygen species in instances of AA. This indicates that lipid peroxidation and antioxidant enzymes may be implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune-type alopecia.
In summary, it appears that there is a consequential relationship between superoxide dismutase and multiple types of hair loss. However, the use of SODs in alopecia treatment has not yet been clinically evaluated.
In a study published by Scientific Reports, researchers evaluated the impact of superoxide dismutase 3 on peptidoglycan-induced inflammation in vivo and in vitro. Results indicated that SOD-3 had a suppressant effect on the expression of both toll-receptor 2 (TLR-2), nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), and p38 in P. acnes-treated cells. Put simply, SOD-3 had an anti-inflammatory impact and reduced the expression of inflammasome-related proteins and cytokines. Researchers concluded that SOD-3 showed promise as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of Propionbactarium acnes-mediated skin inflammation.
Other studies have implicated abnormal serum levels of superoxide dismutase in the proliferation of DNA damage in patients with acne vulgaris. In a study published by the Journal of the Egyptian Women’s Dermatologic Society, researchers evaluated serum levels in fifteen patients with acne vulgaris, fifteen patients with vitiligo, and fifteen control patients. Results indicated that, in cases of both acne vulgaris and vitiligo, both SOD levels and DNA damage were significantly elevated in symptomatic patients. Researchers concluded that management of superoxide dismutase levels was heavily linked to mediation of oxidative stress, indicating the addition of antioxidants to the treatment of acne vulgaris and similar skin disorders.
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Several recent studies have considered superoxide dismutase as a promising therapeutic agent in the management of disordered inflammation of the skin. It has also been indicated as an anti-aging and restorative metalloenzyme.
The free radical theory of aging implicates mitochondrial reactive oxygen species as the primary determinant of aging symptoms. In a study published by Dermatoendocrinology, researchers at the University of Ulm in Ulm, Germany evaluated the role of manganese superoxide dismutase in the mediation of ROS-induced oxidative stress in human skin. Data both in vivo and in vitro yielded a few noteworthy findings: first, a deficiency of SOD-2 was implicated in premature aging of human skin. Second, the upregulation of SOD-2 in human skin fibroblasts was indicated to disturb hydrogen peroxide levels and associated detoxifying enzymes, resulting in senescence (or aging) and skin atrophy. In summary, researchers found that ROS-mediated oxidative damage induced aging, recommending systemic antioxidant approaches to SOD level mediation.
Topical superoxide dismutase has also been indicated as possibly effective in the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis (AD). For example, in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Guglielmo Marconi in Marconi, Italy, researchers tested SOD as an anti-inflammatory factor in the treatment of AD. The modulation of SOD levels was shown to manage the expression and distribution of angiogenic factors and inflammatory mediators, in turn increasing the expression of pro-inflammatory mediators and matrix metalloproteinases. SOD was also demonstrated to participate in immune response by inhibiting leukocyte-endothelium adhesion, modulating inflammatory cytokine expression and thus alleviating skin inflammation in AD patients.
In a Ukrainian study, researchers further evaluated the tolerability and efficacy of an SOD topical treatment in children with combination AD and allergic disorders. Over the course of four weeks, treatment efficacy was evaluated in thirty-five afflicted children and thirty-two controls. Results indicated that the topical combination treatment plus emollient significantly reduced itching, dryness, and lesion intensity by the sixth day of treatment. By the end of the treatment period, lesions and rashes were reduced by 100%.
Superoxide dismutase has been touted as “an emerging target for cancer therapeutics” by clinical journal Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets. Indeed several clinical studies have suggested SODs’ therapeutic potential in cancer treatment and prevention. In a review published by Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, researchers evaluated the role of manganese superoxide dismutase in cancer prevention. According to recent research, lowered SOD levels are implicated in the early stages of cancer development. Further, SOD liposome and mimetics have been indicated as effective in animal models of cancer prevention. Finally, mechanistic studies have suggested that SOD inhibits metabolic shifts during tumorigenesis, or the development of cancerous masses in organisms.
In a study published by Nature: International Journal of Science, researchers examined superoxide dismutase as a protective agent during the selective termination of cancerous cells. Results yielded that active O2– production and low SOD levels in cancerous cells rendered the malignant cells highly dependent on SOD for survival and proliferation. Using DNA microarray and biochemical approaches, researchers found that targeting superoxide dismutase enzymes may be an effective approach in the selective elimination of malignant cancer cells. These data indicate SOD as a promising therapeutic and free-radical-mediating agent in the clinical management of various cancers.
Disclaimer: Please consult with your health care practitioner before changing anything in your cancer care routine.
In a study published by Brain Research, researchers evaluated the role of superoxide dismutase in fibroblast cell lines derived from trisomy 21 and Alzheimer’s patients. According to data from the Alzheimer’s Research Center, University of Cincinatti College of Medicine, SOD-1 activity was shown to be significantly elevated in Alzheimer’s cell lines (by roughly 30%). This enzymatic activity supports the hypothesis that helical filaments are synthesized in Alzheimer’s cell lines via free radical hydroxylation. These data may also indicate the management of SOD-1 levels as instrumental in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study published by the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology evaluated the relationship between SOD-1 polymorphisms and susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease in Han Chinese patients. Data yielded that the Rs2070424 polymorphism in SOD-1 was likely associated with susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease, within a 95% confidence interval. Based on these and similar data, it is clear that superoxide dismutase, specifically SOD-1, plays a role in the development of Alzheimer’s dementia. According to these and associated data, researchers have been able to assert with certainty that SOD-1 is a noteworthy target in Alzheimer’s progression and possible treatment.
Superoxide Dismutase Dosage, Side Effects, Safety, Dangers and Warnings
Superoxide dismutase can be ingested orally, but it is more credibly administered as a shot for various purposes, including the treatment of pain, inflammation, and kidney injury. In some cases, SOD is administered to improve tolerance to radiation therapy in cancer patients.
As an injection, SOD is well-tolerated in infancy and is utilized to treat lung problems in newborn infants. However, there is insufficient research to suggest that SODs are safe to administer or ingest during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Other contraindications and interactions have not yet been identified.
As a crucial antioxidant, superoxide dismutase is not implicated in allergic reactions. However, in some studies, including one published by the Journal of Applied Physiology addressing allergen-induced congestion in ragweed-sensitized dogs, SODs have failed to attenuate allergic symptoms.