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The Benefits of The Thione Complex™ for Burn Wounds

Wendy Barkin, Esq., V.P.

When cutaneous tissues are exposed to radiation or burns from chemical and thermal injuries, damage to the skin ensues. While there are numerous ways in which the skin may be injured through burns such as environmentally, traumatically, surgically, dermatologically or as complications of vascular diseases, the skin’s reaction to such trauma as well as its repair process is generally the same regardless of the cause of the damage. Following radiation, however, free radical damage ensues when water molecules contained within cells are altered and lipids of membranes or extracellular tissues are injured. In addition, there is a marked inflammatory cell response in the affected tissues which releases more free radicals, enhancing the inflammation and tissue damage. Concomitantly, epidermal cells become depleted of vital free radical destroyers known as antioxidants, resulting in cell injury and cell death and breaks in DNA. This condition is known as oxidative stress.

Normally, the skin’s surface has a well-developed endogenous antioxidant defense system to combat free radicals, including the key antioxidant, glutathione (in its reduced form) and the enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase and the selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase. Also present are vitamins C and E. Since glutathione depletion in cells usually precedes cell injury and cell death, increases in intracellular glutathione are particularly beneficial in protecting the skin and in the skin repair process. However, glutathione cannot work alone.

Glutathione protects cells from free radical damage by itself being oxidized. Thus, it must act in combination with other enzyme systems in order to be reduced back to a useful state and renew its role as a free radical scavenger. For example, glutathione coordinates with glutathione peroxidase to break down hydrogen peroxide and lipid hydroperoxides, but glutathione peroxidase requires selenium as a cofactor to exert its biologic antioxidant function. Selenium compounds have been shown to scavenge oxygen-centered radicals in vivo with reduced glutathione through glutathione peroxidase. It is believed that selenium-glutathione peroxidase catalyzes toxic hydrogen peroxide in the presence of reduced glutathione. This reaction reduces glutathione to oxidized glutathione. In turn, the oxidized glutathione is reduced back to glutathione by the enzyme glutathione reductase, thereby constantly maintaining abundant cellular glutathione to scavenge free radicals anew. In short, the glutathione and selenium antioxidant functions are intrinsically related since by keeping a peroxidase in action, glutathione and selenium contribute to the removal of hydrogen peroxide and related molecules.

Extensive inflammation is an acute-phase organ response induced by burns. Free radical production is associated with inflammation. Increased circulating lipid peroxides have been reported in burn patients. Supplemental oral antioxidants have been shown to have beneficial clinical effects and shorten hospitalization of patients with burns. Antioxidants also have site-specific functions, thereby providing improved and accelerated wound repair.

Normal regeneration of the epidermis after injury for healing of wounds requires mitosis and migration of the epidermal cells from residual epidermal appendages within the wound as well as from the intact epithelium surrounding the injury. Acceleration of epidermal regeneration may be enhanced by various growth factors. Thus, growth factors may be used in combination with an antioxidant preparation to enhance epidermal repair and wound healing.

Zinc, the second most abundant trace metal in the human body and present in all living cells and body secretions, plays a prominent role in the reconstruction of the wound matrix. It is necessary for cross-linking of collagen fibers in the skin repair process. Although it probably plays a role in all stages of healing, zinc concentrations increase at the margins of the wound during the formation of granulation tissue, re-epithelialization and normalization periods. In fact, the concentrations of zinc in the margins of the wound during repair are 15-20% higher than in contiguous intact skin and are provided from zinc in blood. Since zinc has been shown to be of value in the skin healing process, the addition of zinc salts to an antioxidant preparation will enhance the skin repair process.

In summary, the Thione Complex™ is based primarily on the synergistic antioxidant combination of glutathione and selenium (in the form of selenoamino acid). These antioxidants work together to significantly diminish free radical damage and the accompanying inflammatory reaction, thereby accelerating the healing of burns. Additional benefits such as skin repair and wound healing could be gained by combining these synergistic antioxidants with reparative growth factors and/or zinc salts. The Thione Complex™ is available for topical applications in creams, lotions and ointments.

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