Good News for Environmental Insults

Good News for Environmental Insults

Each day, our body is subjected to chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides that have become an endemic part of our food chain. While these chemicals have allowed us to produce food in quantities higher than ever seen in history, it has also come with a health price—our bodies are being exposed to these toxic chemicals. One such chemical is Paraquat.

Paraquat was first discovered in 1882. The herbicidal properties of paraquat were scientifically researched in 1958, and became commercially available in 1962. While the European Union has banned the use of Paraquat, it is still one of the most commonly used herbicides and is used legally in the USA. In fact, Paraquat usage has increased in the USA, with about 11,000,000 pounds of the toxin sprayed on the crops annually.

Paraquat is manufactured by Syngenta AG, a Chinese-owned, Swiss-headquartered company. As a bit of irony, Paraquat is illegal in both Switzerland and China.

The US EPA acknowledges the acute toxicity of paraquat, stating on its website, “Paraquat is highly toxic. One small sip can be fatal and there is no antidote.”

The CDC states that, “Paraquat causes direct damage when it comes into contact with the lining of the mouth, stomach, or intestines. After paraquat enters the body, it is distributed to all areas of the body. Paraquat causes toxic chemical reactions to occur throughout many parts of the body, primarily the lungs, liver, and kidneys.”

Typically, I like to avoid toxins that can be fatal, but it seems like this is difficult to do unless you grow your own food.

There is some good news. Just published in the October 2022 journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, scientists have shown that Oxaloacetate protects against paraquat injury by alleviating oxidative stress and preventing mitochondrial dysfunction.

“Our data demonstrated that [Oxaloacetate] OAA treatment significantly alleviated [Paraquat] PQ-induced [Acute Lung Injury] ALI and improved the survival rate of PQ-poisoned mice, and also alleviated PQ-induced cellular oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. OAA-mediated alleviation of PQ-induced mitochondrial dysfunction depends on the following mechanisms which may explain the above findings: 1) OAA effectively cleared intracellular ROS, inhibited ROS accumulation, and mitochondrial depolarization; 2) OAA inhibited the downregulation of L-OPA1 and MFN2 caused by PQ and promoted a dynamic balance of mitochondrial fusion and fission, and 3) the expression of PGC-1α, TFAM, COX2, and COX4I1, increased significantly following OAA intervention which improved mitochondrial respiratory functions and promoted its biogenesis and energy metabolism in damaged cells. In conclusion, OAA effectively cleared ROS and improved mitochondrial dysfunction, thereby significantly improving ALI caused by PQ poisoning and the animal survival rate. Therefore, OAA may be a potential drug for the treatment of PQ poisoning.” 1

There is a lot here. First off, although there currently is no antidote for paraquat poisoning, oxaloacetate is now a potential drug for this treatment.

Secondly, reducing cellular oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction is a huge thing. Oxidative stress allows free radicals to damage our cells, preventing them from doing what they need to do. “One of the central themes of the oxidative stress hypothesis is that ROS are the primary causal factor underlying aging-associated declines in physiological function. Several lines of direct and indirect evidence generated over the past two decades have demonstrated a positive relationship between increased in vivo oxidative stress and biological aging.” 2

So, reducing oxidative stress may be a key to reducing aging.

Eliminating mitochondrial damage is also huge. The mitochondria are the “power plants” of the cells, responsible for producing more that 90% of our energy that we use. “Mitochondrial damage is implicated as a major contributing factor for a number of noncommunicable chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases cancer, obesity, and insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes.”

Using oxaloacetate to reduce mitochondrial damage may thus be a good thing in helping to keep healthy people healthy.

Have you had your benaGene (oxaloacetate) today?

Further Reading

  1. Li W, Li M, Chen K, et al. Oxaloacetate acid ameliorates paraquat-induced acute lung injury by alleviating oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Front Pharmacol. 2022;13:1029775.
  2. Kregel KC, Zhang HJ. An integrated view of oxidative stress in aging: basic mechanisms, functional effects, and pathological considerations. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007;292(1):R18-36.
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