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Introduction

Antioxidants play a crucial role in safeguarding our bodies from the damaging effects of free radicals. These harmful molecules can wreak havoc on our cells and contribute to various health issues. As our understanding of these mechanisms deepens, researchers are increasingly intrigued by the potential of methylene blue as a potent antioxidant.
Methylene blue has been making waves as a potential therapeutic agent, boasting remarkable antioxidant effects that have caught the attention of scientists. These effects, which are attributed to methylene blue’s potent antioxidant properties, encompass a range of possible benefits, including the delay of skin aging, neuroprotection, prevention of toxicities, improvement of mitochondrial functioning, and facilitation of liver damage recovery.
The pressing question that arises is whether these claims are substantiated by solid scientific evidence. If so, what lies behind the remarkable beneficial effects attributed to methylene blue? This article delves into the research-based evidence supporting methylene blue’s role as an antioxidant.

Unveiling the Antioxidant Benefits of Methylene Blue

Delays skin aging

Provides neuroprotection against neurological conditions

Helps to prevent certain toxicities

Improves mitochondrial functioning

Helps in the recovery from liver damage

Validating Methylene Blues Role as an Antioxidant: Research-based Evidence 

Rodent Studies

Mitochondrial dysfunction decreases energy production and enhances oxidative stress by inducing the production of reactive oxygen species.

study was conducted in 2017 and published in Pub Med to evaluate the effects of methylene blue on impaired mitochondrial functions and free radical production in diabetic rats. Researchers observed that 0.1 µmol/L of methylene blue significantly improved the cardiac mitochondria’s energy production and reduced oxidative stress by suppressing the rats’ reactive oxygen species (ROS) production.[1]

 Another study, published in Pub Med, tested methylene blue’s antioxidant might by artificially inducing high-grade liver injury in rats. Researchers observed that injecting methylene blue into the portal vein significantly improved rats’ liver functions and oxidation status.[2]

Similarly, in a 2010 study published by science direct, researchers ligated the common bile duct and induced cholestatic stress and liver damage in Wistar rats. After intraperitoneal administration of 2 mg/kg/day of methylene blue for 14 days, scientists discovered liver damage was significantly prevented in the bile duct-ligated rats. Methylene blue attenuated the cholestatic hepatic impairment by reducing oxidative damage and inflammatory processes. []3

Human Trials

Several clinical and experimental trials have also been conducted in humans, providing evidence regarding methylene blue’s potential role and benefits as an antioxidant.

For example, oxidative stress is one of the significant causes of skin aging. Researchers used an in vitro reconstructed 3D human skin model to evaluate methylene blue’s antioxidant and anti-aging properties. Results showed that methylene blue is a potent ROS scavenger and also stimulates the proliferation of skin fibroblasts, therefore, helps in delaying the cellular senescence in the skin.[4]

Moreover, research published in 2012 also claimed that methylene blue provided neuroprotection by acting as an alternative mitochondrial electron carrier and reducing the production of ROS, like superoxide. [5]

The mechanism behind the Antioxidant Effects of Methylene Blue

Methylene blue is believed to possess remarkable antioxidant properties due to the following potential mechanisms;

Low Redox Potential

Methylene blue also has a low redox potential of 11mV, allowing it to change into oxidized and reduced forms in the mitochondria readily. As a catalytic redox cycler, methylene blue promotes Cytochrome activity and ATP production in mitochondria.[6]

Decreases ROS Production

Methylene blue decreases ROS production, like hydrogen superoxide, bypassing the Complex I/III of the electron transport chain. It receives NADH electrons, converts them into leucomethylene blue, and then transfers them directly to Cytochrome C while re-oxidizing to its previous state. [6]

Increases Expression of Antioxidant Genes

study has claimed that methylene blue also activates the Nrf2/ARE signaling pathways which in turn induce the expression of genes related to the antioxidant defense and mitochondrial DNA repair. These effects help in preventing nephrotoxicity caused by cancer drugs like cisplatin.[7]

Summary

Exploring the antioxidant potential of methylene blue has revealed its impressive ability to counteract harmful molecules called free radicals. These free radicals can cause damage to our cells and contribute to various health problems.
Methylene blue shows promise as a an antioxidant, offering several benefits, like slowing down skin aging, protecting the brain from diseases, boosting energy production in cells, and aiding in liver recovery.
The research reinforced these claims by demonstrating that methylene blue improves cell function, reduces stress on cells, and triggers pathways that defend against damage.
The science behind its antioxidant power involves methylene blue’s unique properties that enable it to boost energy cellular energy production and reduce harmful radicals by activating processes that enhance our natural defense mechanisms against damage.

Conclusion

Methylene blue’s proven antioxidant capabilities offer a potential path for future therapies. Its role in safeguarding our cells and promoting health is an exciting area of study that could lead to innovative treatments for various health conditions related to oxidative stress.

References

  1. Duicu OM, Privistirescu A, Wolf A, Petruş A, Dănilă MD, Raţiu CD, Muntean DM, Sturza A. Methylene blue improves mitochondrial respiration. It decreases oxidative stress in a substrate-dependent manner in diabetic rat hearts. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 2017;95(11):1376-82.
  2. Bozkurt B, Dumlu EG, Tokac M, ÖZKARDEŞ A, Ergin M, Orhun S, Kilic ME. Methylene blue as an antioxidant agent in experimentally induced injury in rat liver. Bratislava Medical Journal. 2015;116(3).
  3. Aksu B, Umit H, Kanter M, Guzel A, Aktas C, Civelek S, Uzun H. Effects of methylene blue in reducing cholestatic oxidative stress and hepatic damage after bile-duct ligation in rats. Acta histochemica. 2010 May 1;112(3):259-69.
  4. Xiong ZM, O’Donovan M, Sun L, Choi JY, Ren M, Cao K. Anti-aging potentials of methylene blue for human skin longevity. Scientific reports. 2017 May 30;7(1):2475.
  5. Poteet E, Winters A, Yan LJ, Shufelt K, Green KN, Simpkins JW, Wen Y, Yang SH. Neuroprotective actions of methylene blue and its derivatives. PloS one. 2012 Oct 31;7(10):e48279.
  6. Xue H, Thaivalappil A, Cao K. The potentials of methylene blue as an anti-aging drug. Cells. 2021 Dec 1;10(12):3379.
  7. Samoylova NA, Gureev AP, Popov VN. Methylene Blue Induces Antioxidant Defense and Reparation of Mitochondrial DNA in a Nrf2-Dependent Manner during Cisplatin-Induced Renal Toxicity. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2023 Mar 24;24(7):6118

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