Ergothioneine (ERG), is a water-soluble amino acid that is derived entirely from dietary sources. It has received much attention as a therapeutic agent due to its anti-oxidant properties, and there are claims of preferential accumulation within high oxidative stress organs. Pre-eclampsia, a condition accompanied by increased oxidative stress, is one of the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality. Despite intense research efforts, its aetiologies remain somewhat unclear and there are still no effective treatment options. Clinical trials of the anti-oxidants vitamin C and vitamin E have proven largely ineffective with little improvement in clinical outcome or even a negative response. This could be explained in part by their inability to permeate the plasma and mitochondrial membranes and scavenge mitochondria-derived superoxide species, and for the former by the fact that it is actually a pro-oxidant in the presence of unliganded iron. ERG accumulates within tissues through the action of a specific organic cation transporter, SLC22A4 (previously referred to as OCTN1), which is possibly also expressed in mammalian mitochondria. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in a variety of vascular diseases including pre-eclampsia. This review discusses the use of ERG as a possibly mitochondrial-targeted anti-oxidant, focusing on its physical properties, potential mechanisms of action, safety profile and administration in relation to pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia.
Keywords: Ergothioneine; Oxidative stress; Pre-eclampsia.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Inc.