I love reporting on research that supports my favorite theories, and also on research that challenges them. In the post The anti-antioxidant side of the story I reported on research suggesting a couple of possible downsides to antioxidant supplementation. A just-published research publication suggests another possible downside: Antioxidant and oncogene rescue of metabolic defects caused by loss of matrix attachment. “Normal epithelial cells require matrix attachment for survival, and the ability of tumour cells to survive outside their natural extracellular matrix (ECM) niches is dependent on acquisition of anchorage independence. Although apoptosis is the most rapid mechanism for eliminating cells lacking appropriate ECM attachment, recent reports suggest that non-apoptotic death processes prevent survival when apoptosis is inhibited in matrix-deprived cells.” Specifically “detachment of mammary epithelial cells from ECM causes an ATP deficiency owing to the loss of glucose transport.” The ATP deficient cells being in a state of stress had high levels of ROS expression and eventually died off, a good thing. This kind of cell death is important because many cancers suppress the expression of apoptotic genes. However, exposing the detached cells to antioxidants tended to restore ATP production and rescue the rouge cells, a bad thing.
Another report on the same research states “Can antioxidants also promote cell transformation? MCF-10A cells expressing oncogenes that promote proliferation and suppress apoptosis (either human papillomavirus E7 and BCL-2, or ERBB2) exhibit limited colony formation in soft agar, but antioxidant treatment increased both the number and the size of colonies.” – “–antioxidants may promote tumours by suppressing the ability of ROS to prevent outgrowth of cells that are displaced from their natural microenvironment.” I have no idea as to whether the concern is a valid one for the health of live organisms, and, if so, the dimensions of the problem.
Repeating what I said in my earlier post, I stress that taking antioxidants is only one component of what is likely to be an effective anti-aging program such as that identified in my treatise ANTI-AGING FIREWALLS – THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF LONGEVITY. Further, taking certain antioxidants in excess quantities could conceivably be dangerous to health or longevity.