Science Update

Review Explores Impact of Phytochemicals and Probiotics on Oxidative Stress

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a molecule that is a byproduct of many critical biochemical processes within the cell. It also participates as a second messenger in certain cell signaling pathways. However, hydrogen peroxide is also considered a major reactive oxygen species (ROS), and it easily breaks down into free radicals, furthering its ability to contribute to oxidative stress.

Hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress impacts many processes within the body. It can lead to cellular malfunctioning, age-related physiological decline, and increases in proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-1β and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-ɑ within the gut. Hydrogen peroxide can also contribute to neuronal dysfunction and alterations in the immune response.

A recently published review article by Kumar and colleagues explored the potential for certain phytochemicals and probiotics to help support the body’s response to hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. The authors highlight several laboratory studies involving resveratrol; resveratrol was shown to help improve cell membrane integrity, extracellular glutathione levels, and lysosome activity. It also helped increase endothelial SIRT1 levels. In another laboratory study involving hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress, quercetin was shown to chelate the transition metals that are required for the biochemical reactions that produce hydroxyl radicals from hydrogen peroxide, thus helping to reduce oxidative stress. Another laboratory study involving hydrogen peroxide and oxidative stress showed that some bioactive molecules found in green and black teas can help improve cell viability.

Certain probiotics may help support the body’s response to hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG was shown to help promote free radical scavenging potential in a laboratory study. Another study found that L. casei and L. acidophilus exhibited the highest activity to promote antioxidative status when compared with 11 other Lactobacillus strains. 

An enzyme derived from Lactobacillus plantarum AKU1009a was shown in a laboratory study to help shield certain cells from hydrogen peroxide-induced cytotoxicity. Other strains of L. plantarum have also helped modulate apoptosis, malondialdehyde levels, and protect certain cell lines from oxidative damage in the laboratory setting. In addition, increases in mitochondrial membrane potential and the modulation of glutathione and superoxide dismutase levels were observed. While the latest research is promising, clinical studies need to be performed before any conclusions can be made. 

Oxidative stress has been linked to many chronic illnesses, aging, and many harmful changes in the body. Certain phytochemicals such as resveratrol and probiotics including certain Lactobacillus strains may help support the body’s response to hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. Dietary sources of resveratrol include grape skin, dark berries, and peanuts.

By Dr. Cory Ambrose, ND, MAT