Medically reviewed on Jun 7, 2018
What is SOD?
Superoxide dismutase (SOD, orgotein) is an ubiquitous enzyme that has received attention because of its therapeutic activity and because of claims that its ingestion may improve health and lengthen the human lifespan. At least 3 distinct types of the enzyme are found in humans and other mammals.
A highly reactive superoxide free radical is generated as a toxic metabolite in a wide range of normal biological reactions that reduce oxygen. Since the superoxide radical is toxic to normal living cells, the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is present in all cells, catalyzes the conversion of superoxide to the harmless components oxygen and hydrogen peroxide.
Superoxide dismutase, orgotein
What is it used for?
White blood cells involved in the acute inflammatory response release large amounts of superoxide, which appears to contribute to the destruction of bacteria. Similarly, the amount of superoxide released at the site of an inflamed joint has been shown to cause extensive and rapid degradation of synovial fluid. SOD generally protects the fluid against this degradation. Furthermore, it protects the leucocytes themselves from free radical damage.
Although IV infusion of SOD has little anti-inflammatory activity because of its rapid renal clearance, the local injection of SOD has proven to be an effective treatment for a variety of inflammatory disorders.
Superoxide has been successfully used to treat human inflammatory diseases. In West Germany, where orgotein has been in general medical use for years, the drug is injected locally for the management of osteoarthritis, sports injuries, and knee joint osteoarthritis.
SOD has been used for the treatment of soft tissue inflammation in horses and dogs, human inflammatory diseases, and chronic bladder inflammations. SOD is obtained for clinical use through genetically engineered biotechnology sources.
Several reports have described an association between free radicals and aging. One researcher suggested that lifespans could be increased by 5 to 10 years by reducing body weight and increasing the levels of free-radical scavengers such as ascorbic acid, selenium and alpha-tocopherol. Some data indicate that longer-lived animal species have a higher internal degree of protection against free radicals.
Based on such reports, some health food manufacturers have promoted products containing SOD as a nutritional supplement. These oral supplements have been said to remove wrinkles and age lines, slow the aging process, and facilitate a longer, healthier life.
There are no published data to support these claims. SOD is a labile enzyme that is degraded rapidly by gastric acids when ingested. It is essentially unabsorbed after oral administration even when enteric coated, and confers no pharmacologic activity when taken orally. While many foods (red meats, vegetables) are rich in SOD, their SOD is degraded when ingested and is rendered enzymatically inactive.
What is the recommended dosage?
There is a single clinical trial in which SOD was administered intratracheally in premature infants. Injection of SOD in 8 to 32 mg doses has been reported. Most clinical trials of SOD have measured its level as an outcome, rather than a treatment.
Contraindications have not yet been identified.
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.
The main complaint seems to be pain at the injection site.
SOD has been recognized as a remarkably nontoxic compound.