The body's cells are under constant onslaught from oxidants such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). These oxidants are generated both endogenously (within the body) and are absorbed exogenously from the environment.

Regardless of origin, excess free radicals and oxidants in the bloodstream may alter (i.e., oxidize) macromolecules in the blood or cell membranes. “If not eliminated, such molecules may trigger the development of pathological conditions,� says Zbigniew Pietrzkowski, vice president of research and development, VDF FutureCeuticals Inc.

“Fortunately, since free radicals and oxidants are naturally generated in the body during metabolism as necessary by-products of properly functioning cells, the body evolved mechanisms to ameliorate oxidative stress. For example, excess oxidants can sometimes be reduced by dietary antioxidants,� says Pietrzkowski.

Consumers increasingly embrace this concept and, consequently, the consumption of high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) supplements and foods has grown. However, efficacy has remained an issue due to limited bioavailability of various antioxidants.

“Researchers have begun investigating particularly powerful internal antioxidant systems based on enzymes that neutralize specific types of damaging chemicals,� says John Hunter, vice president of business development, VDF FutureCeuticals Inc. Examples of this include catalase, a protein enzyme that degrades hydroxyperoxidase, or other proteins that, when activated, produce glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase and other antioxidant proteins.

Of special interest are Phase II Proteins (P2P), produced by genes in response to oxidative stress. In turn, expression of P2P results in the production of antioxidant enzymes such as quinine reductase and glutathione S-transferase.

In more detail, Nrf2 protein is complexed with a cytoplasmic protein called Keap1. Oxidants release Nrf2 from the complex and Nrf2 is transferred to the cell nucleus where it activates genes containing “Antioxidant Response Elements (ARE),� one of which is P2P. Mice without Nrf2 manifest severe health problems1 and have shorter lifespans2. Unfortunately, expression and function of P2P also declines with age.

VDF FutureCeuticals is a researcher, developer and provider of high-quality ORAC food and nutritional ingredients such as VitaBlue™ high-anthocyanin wild blueberry extract, VitaBerry™ high ORAC blends of fruit extracts and concentrated powders and the LactiCeuticals line of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics. The company now is focusing on the development of ingredients that activate P2P and the endogenous antioxidant system. Clinical case studies show that these new ingredients can significantly reduce oxidized molecules such as oxLDL and carbonyl proteins. “Supplementation with effective dietary activators of P2P offers great promise for human health,� says Hunter. NS



1 Ishii T et al., 2000. Transcriptional factor Nrf2 coordinately regulates a group of oxidative stress-inducible genes in macrophages. J Biol Chem. 275(21):16023-9
2 Yoh K et al., 2001. Nrf2-deficient female mice develop lupus-like autoimmune nephritis. Kidney Int. 60(4):1343-53


For more information:
VDF FutureCeuticals Inc. Momence, Ill. • 815-472-6853