Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps support detoxification pathways by providing protective measures against environmental stresses, air pollutants, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals. Numerous conditions have been associated with a decline of detoxification pathways, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions.
According to a new study published in the journal Redox Biology, researchers at Oregon State University demonstrated that n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) may help maintain glutathione levels and prevent the metabolic declines associated with aging. Levels of glutathione diminish with age, yet this important antioxidant is needed to help the body resist the stresses of everyday life. The extent of glutathione depletion appears to mirror the severity of disease and is the earliest known indicator of degeneration.
In this new animal study, researchers demonstrated that cells from younger animals were more resistant to stress than those from older animals. In younger animal cells, stress did not cause the same rapid loss of glutathione as was seen in older animals. As a result, prophylactic use of NAC increased glutathione levels in the older cells and offset cell death.
I shared a study earlier this year, published in June in PLOS ONE, in which researchers from Thomas Jefferson University demonstrated a potential benefit of n-acetyl-cysteine in patients with Parkinson's disease. The study showed that those receiving NAC improved both mental and physical abilities, using brain imaging studies that tracked the levels of dopamine.
This demonstrated that NAC may have a unique physiological effect on the brain that alters the disease process and improves the function of dopamine neurons, offering a new approach for managing patients with Parkinson’s disease.
N-acetyl-cysteine can definitely play a significant a role in preventing the increased toxicity faced with aging and the body’s reduced ability to eliminate toxins. NAC has the ability to improve the metabolic resilience that is lost with the aging process as well as its detoxification support. Increasing NAC can reduce the toxicity of some prescription drugs, cancer chemotherapies, and support other health issues. Therefore, using NAC as prophylactic support instead of a treatment can allow glutathione levels to be maintained to provide protective measures against the natural aging process in older adults.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
Source: Nicholas O. Thomas, Kate P. Shay, Amanda R. Kelley, Judy A. Butler, Tory M. Hagen. Glutathione maintenance mitigates age-related susceptibility to redox cycling agents. Redox Biology, 2016; 10: 45 DOI: 10.1016/j.redox.2016.09.010