Oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF) is a chronic oral potentially malignant disorder (OPMD). It is described as a scarring disease of the oral mucosa associated with excess oxidants and insufficient antioxidants. While it is becoming increasingly accepted that oxidative stress results in excessive accumulation of collagen and progressive fibrosis of the submucosal tissues, there is limited data regarding the moderation of oxidative stress to initiate or prevent OSMF. To assess the scope for mechanism-based approaches to prevent or reverse OSMF, we systematically evaluated the existing literature and investigated the role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis and chemoprevention of OSMF. A search for relevant articles on PubMed and Scopus was undertaken using pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. A total of 78 articles were selected in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines. The articles eligible for assessment investigated both OSMF and/or oxidative stress biomarkers or specific antioxidants. Both in vitro and human studies consistently demonstrated variations in oxidative stress biomarker levels in OSMF and revealed an increase in oxidative stress, paralleling the development of the disease. Furthermore, the use of antioxidant supplements was overall associated with an improvement in clinical outcomes. Having identified the significance of oxidative stress in OSMF and the therapeutic potential of antioxidant supplements, this scoping review highlights the need for further well-designed studies in the development of mechanism-based interventions for managing OSMF.
Keywords: antioxidant supplements; oral submucous fibrosis; oxidative stress; reactive oxygen species.