Superoxide dismutase administration, a potential therapy against oxidative stress related diseases: several routes of supplementation and proposal of an original mechanism of action

Pharm Res. 2013 Nov;30(11):2718-28. doi: 10.1007/s11095-013-1113-5. Epub 2013 Jun 21.


Oxidative stress, involved in many diseases, is defined as an impaired balance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and antioxidant defences. Antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) play a key role in diminishing oxidative stress. Thus, the removal of ROS by exogenous SODs could be an effective preventive strategy against various diseases. The poor bioavailability of exogenous SODs has been criticized. However, improvements in SOD formulation may overcome this limitation and boost interest in its therapeutic properties. Here, we provide a review of animal and human studies about SODs supplementation in order to evaluate their therapeutic value. Protective effects have been observed against irradiation, carcinogenesis, apoptosis and neurodegeneration. SODs administration has also been reported to alleviate inflammatory, infectious, respiratory, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and genitourinary and fertility disorders, raising the question of its mechanism of action in these diverse situations. Some authors have shown an increase in endogenous antioxidant enzymes after exogenous SODs administration. The induction of endogenous antioxidant defence and, consequently, a decrease in oxidative stress, could explain all the effects observed. Further investigations need to be carried out to test the hypothesis that SODs supplementation acts by inducing an endogenous antioxidant defence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Superoxide Dismutase / administration & dosage*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / pharmacokinetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / therapeutic use


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Superoxide Dismutase