Professor Enrique Amaya and his team at The Healing Foundation Centre in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester published new research that indicates the use and possible overuse of antioxidants as prescribed by health and fitness experts may have a detrimental effect on the bodies cellular regenerative capacity in the Jan. 13, 2013, issue of the journal Nature Cell Biology.
Amaya showed that several genes that are involved in metabolism are activated, in particular those that are linked to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) - chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen. What was unusually about those findings is that ROS are commonly believed to be harmful to cells.
This discovery was the result of years of work investigating the regenerative ability of frogs, salamanders, and tadpoles to regenerate their tails. The aim of the research is to develop a better understanding of how the chemistry of cellular and body part regeneration could be applied to humans.
High levels of ROS as a necessity during tail regeneration was confirmed by limiting ROS production using two methods. The first was by using chemicals, including an antioxidant, and the second was by removing a gene responsible for ROS production. In both cases the regeneration process was inhibited and the tadpole tail did not grow back.
The researchers found that antioxidants had a negative impact on tissue regrowth in humans by interfering with ROS production that is essential to activate the Wnt signaling pathway in cells, which has been implicated in essentially every studied regeneration system, including those found in humans.
“The publication of Professor Amaya's study comes just days after a paper from the Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, James Watson, who has suggested antioxidants could be harmful to people in the later stages of cancer.”
The researchers plan an analysis that may provide the proper balance of ROS and antioxidants needed for optimum cellular regeneration and possibly body part regeneration in humans.
The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert website the date of publication