N-acetylcysteine and alpha-lipoic acid improve antioxidant defenses and decrease oxidative stress, inflammation and serum lipid levels in ovariectomized rats via estrogen-independent mechanisms.
J Nutr Biochem. 2019 May ;67:190-200. Epub 2019 Mar 10. PMID: 30951973
Sexual hormone deficiency has been associated with metabolic changes, oxidative stress and subclinical inflammation in postmenopausal women. Hormone replacement therapies are effective in many instances, even though some patients either do not respond or are not eligible. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of short- (15 days) versus long-term (60 days) sexual hormone depletion and whether antioxidant supplementation with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and alpha-lipoic acid (LA) improves oxidative stress, metabolic, and inflammatory parameters in ovariectomized (OVX) rats. Short-term OVX rapidly depleted circulating estrogen, causing uterine atrophy and body weight gain without affecting oxidative damage, inflammatory and lipid metabolism markers. In contrast, long-term OVX augmented oxidative damage in serum and peripheral tissues as well as increased serum total cholesterol, TNF-α and IL6 levels. Triglycerides, glucose and HDL cholesterol were not altered. Long-term OVX-induced oxidative stress was associated with depletion of GSH and total non-enzymatic antioxidants as well as decreased activity of Glutathione Peroxidase (GPx) and Glutathione Reductase (GR), but not Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and Catalase (CAT). NAC and LA supplementation prevented GSH and total non-enzymatic antioxidants depletion as well as restored GPx and GR activities, TNF-α, IL6 and cholesterol in OVX rats. NAC and LA effects appear to be independent on NRF2 activation and estrogen-like activity, since NAC/LA did not promote NRF2 activation and were not able to emulate estrogen effects in OVX rats and estrogen-receptor-positive cells. The herein presented data suggest that NAC and LA may improve some deleterious effects of sexual hormone depletion via estrogen-independent mechanisms.