Antioxidant Enzymes Low in Aging Disease

People with progeria -- a rare, rapid aging disease -- have low levels of the antioxidant enzymes believed to fight aging. Replacement of these enzymes may help treat people with progeria, but they also provide insight into the normal aging process. People with progeria live on average to the age of 13. By the time they're 6 years old, they look like they're 60 or 70. In addition to rapid aging, patients suffer delayed growth, a build up of fats and cholesterol in the arteries, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses.

The researchers found that in cells from progeria patients, levels of three important antioxidant enzymes were lower than those found in healthy cells. Activity levels of the enzyme catalase were 50% lower than normal, while glutathione peroxidase activity was 70% less. In addition, the investigators note that progeria cells respond less well to the stress of poor nutrition compared with healthy cells. Dietary antioxidants in food or vitamin supplements, such as vitamins C and E, are important but have a smaller effect than the antioxidant enzymes produced by the body.

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 1999;257:163-167.

Volume 353, Number 9169 12 June 1999

COMMENT: More confirmation that it is more important to use good nutrition to nourish the body rather than to use supplements to compensate for poor dietary choices. It appears that the body’s own antioxidants are far more potent than the external ones that we typically consume.

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