An antioxidant, MitoQ, has been identified that can prevent liver damage caused by alcoholism.
The Researchers at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), USA, have discovered this new antioxidant, which they believe, could pave the way for new methods of cirrhosis and cancer treatment.
AdvertisementMitochondria-targeted ubiquinone (MitoQ) has been found to be very effective in intercepting and neutralizing free radicals in the livers of alcoholics' much before the radicals begin to damage the organ.
Mitochondria is an organelle of the cell known as the "power house" of the body. Here energy gets converted into a form that can be used by cells.
For their study the UAB researchers introduced the antioxidant MitoQ into the mitochondria of rats that were alcohol -fed every day for 5-6 weeks. The amount of alcohol fed to the rats was adequate enough to reflect excessive intake in humans.
During alcohol metabolism in the liver, there is an increased production of free radicals, which can damage the mitochondria inside liver cells. This in turn incapacitates the liver cells from using enough oxygen to create energy.
The low-oxygen condition (hypoxia) prevailing within the mitochondria worsens mitochondrial damage and promotes fatty deposit formation (steatosis) which in turn can lead to cirrhosis or even liver cancer.
According to UAB researchers, MitoQ has been able to intercept the free radicals and neutralize them before they cause damage to the mitochondria. The antioxidant has the ability to prevent steatosis and, thereby, prevent liver diseases, such as cirrhosis.
According to lead researcher Dr Victor Darley-Usmar "There has not been a promising pharmaceutical approach to preventing or reversing the long-term damage associated with fatty deposits in the liver that result from excessive consumption of alcohol .Our findings suggest that MitoQ might be a useful agent for treating the liver damage caused by prolonged, habitual alcohol use."
Another useful information is that research in the past has shown that MitoQ can be safely administered to humans on a long-term basis.
Dr Darley-Usmar and his team are having talks with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a group of drugs based on their interactions with the mitochondria. Such drugs hopefully could be effective in treating diseases of the heart, kidney and also the neurodegenerative disorders.
It is also hoped that this work of research, published recently in the "Hepatology" journal, might also be useful in treating the rapidly- growing metabolic syndrome which has impacted some 50 million Americans alone.