Oxidative stress


A1M combats oxidative stress in a variety of ways

All living organisms are subject to possible internal damage resulting from reactive oxygen species and free radicals – aggressive bi-products of metabolism and respiration. A1M has a unique function in the body’s defense against this so-called oxidative stress.

The human body’s tissues, cells and molecules are exposed to constant “wear” or degradation, known as oxidative stress. This is caused largely by side reactions in the normal biochemical processes of life, which involve reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals.

To defend our bodies against oxidative stress we can use antioxidants such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin E (tocopherols). In addition to vitamins, other substances in the diet may also have an antioxidant effect, such as carotenoids, polyphenols and selenium, which as we know have spent the last decade in the health industry spotlight.

However, our own inborn antioxidants are more important. A1M has been shown to play a unique role in the body’s defense against oxidative stress. Simply put, it has three functions:

  1. It is present in all parts of our body and relieves the tissues of free radicals and oxidizing agents, particularly heme (see below), after which it is transported to the kidneys and is then broken down or excreted. It can be likened to a circulating wastebasket that is emptied by the renal waste system.
  2. It reduces (i.e. neutralizes) oxidants.
  3. It restores tissue molecules that have been oxidized—a reparative function.

Harmful effects of free hemoglobin

The body’s oxygen-carrying protein, hemoglobin, or Hb, is composed of four iron-containing heme-groups (an organic molecule) and four minor proteins. Normally, it is safely “packaged” inside the red blood cells.

Hemoglobin protein. The heme-groups are shown in green. (Image from Wikipedia.)

Free hemoglobin can be harmful to the body because when it escapes from the red blood cells, it spontaneously generates free oxygen radicals that make the molecule break down to form free heme-groups, free iron and other toxic breakdown products. These can cause oxidative stress and damage to vessels and kidneys.

The Lund studies suggest that A1M is one of the body’s most important safeguards against the harmful effects of free hemoglobin. Other examples are the “scavenger” proteins haptoglobin and hemopexin, which capture free hemoglobin and free heme.


Åkerström & Gram:
A1M, an extravascular tissue cleaning and housekeeping protein (Free Radical Biology and Medicine 2014)