Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Natural antioxidants and Combating Disease

(Extracts of Invited talk given by Dr. Najmul Islam at ACIBICON Dec. 2007, New Delhi, India)

Natural Antioxidants – A New Hope for Military and Civilian Applications

Najmul Islam and Nazarul Hasan.

Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, J. N. Medical College, A. M. U., Aligarh

Objective: Arrays of reasons contribute to the generation of free radicals in vivo, including oxidative stress, infections, etc. thereby resulting in disease proliferation. Far more troops have to be removed from field operations due to diseases than from war-related wounds. Troops who served in the Middle East came back home with Gulf War Syndrome. A mycobacterium is believed to have caused as many as 400,000 cases of Gulf War Syndrome. Because of antibiotic resistance (MDR-TB), antibiotic drugs as prophylaxis cannot be given. Thus, we explored the possible use of a natural antioxidant, namely allicin from garlic as a safe and economical adjunct in tuberculosis management.

Materials and Methods: Blood of TB patients and healthy subjects were collected for PBMC isolation. Monocytes obtained from it were cultured and subjected to treatment with 0-500 ng/ml of allicin for 24 hrs. Levels of TNF-α mRNA and MTB 85B mRNA was determined by RT-PCR. Intramonocyte glutathione (GSH) levels were also measured. Secreted IFN-γ levels were assessed in TB monocyte culture supernatants using ELISA.

Results: We observed that allicin from garlic was a strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent having beneficial effects on the immune system as well as in combating tuberculosis. We found that allicin from garlic helped in scavenging the free-radicals generated due to MTB-infection in human monocytes by suppressing TNF-α mRNA and MTB 85B mRNA and ameliorating the levels of intramonocyte glutathione (GSH) and IFN-γ levels.

Conclusions: Allicin from garlic may act as a valuable anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that may combat TB. It is hoped that allicin may act as a potential stealth molecule helping both to military as well as civilians.

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