Superoxide Dismutase

Health Care Professional Information

Common Name

Dismuzyme, rh-SOD, orgotein superoxide, bovine superoxide dismutase

Clinical Summary

Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is a ubiquitous enzyme present throughout the body. It is available in the form of supplements but they not absorbed following oral administration (1). There are no data to support claims of improved health or anti-aging benefit with SOD supplementation. However, animal studies have shown that oral administration of a standardized SOD extract combined with wheat gliadin may protect against oxidative stress-induced cell death (8) and stress-induced impairment of cognitive function (9).
There is no supporting literature on the benefits of sublingual SOD.

The parenteral formulation, Orgotein, is classified by the FDA as an orphan drug, not as a dietary supplement, for the treatment of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Studies of possible effects of Orgotein in treating radiation-induced cystitis have yielded mixed results (3) (5) (6).

Purported Uses
  • Antiaging
  • Cystitis, radiation-induced
  • Inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Urinary tract disorders
Mechanism of Action

The enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) catalyzes the breakdown of superoxide radicals, that are toxic to living cells, into harmless components consisting of oxygen and hydrogen peroxide (2).
But because SOD1 also protects cancer cells, and is overexpressed in lung cancer cells, it was identified as a therapeutic target for anti-lung cancer compounds (10).
In a recent study, inhibition of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) was shown to induce cell death in various non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells (11).


Oral SOD is acid-labile and has no oral bioavailability even when administered as enteric-coated capsules (1).

Adverse Reactions

Common (parenteral): Allergic reaction or pain at injection site.

Herb-Drug Interactions

None reported.

Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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  1. DerMarderosian A, editor. The Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Facts and Comparisons; 1999.
  2. McCord JM, Fridovich I. Superoxide dismutase. An enzymic function for erythrocuprein (hemocuprein). J Biol Chem 1969;244:6049-55.
  3. Sanchiz F, et al. Prevention of radioinduced cystitis by orgotein: a randomized study. Anticancer Res 1996;16:2025-8.
  4. Land W, et al. The beneficial effect of human recombinant superoxide dismutase on acute and chronic rejection events in recipientsof cadaveric renal transplants. Transplantation 1994;57:211-7.
  5. McIlwain H, et al. Intra-articular orgotein in osteoarthritis of the knee: a placebo-controlled efficacy, safety, and dosage comparison. Am J Med 1989;87:295.
  6. Nielsen OS, et al. Orgotein in radiation treatment of bladder cancer. A report on allergic reactions and lack of radioprotective effect. Acta Oncol 1987;26:101-4.
  7. Kadrnka F. Results of a multicenter orgotein study in radiation induced and interstitial cystitis. Eur J Rheumatol Inflamm 1981;4:237-43.
  8. Vouldoukis I, Conti M, Krauss P, et al. Supplementation with gliadin-combined plant superoxide dismutase extract promotes antioxidant defences and protects against oxidative stress. Phytother Res. 2004 Dec;18(12):957-62.
  9. Nakajima S, Ohsawa I, Nagata K, et al. Oral supplementation with melon superoxide dismutase extract promotes antioxidant defences in the brain and prevents stress-induced impairment of spatial memory. Behav Brain Res. 2009 Jun 8;200(1):15-21.
  10. Somwar R, Erdjument-Bromage H, Larsson E, et al. Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) is a target for a small molecule identified in a screen for inhibitors of the growth of lung adenocarcinoma cell lines. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 27;108(39):16375-80.
  11. Glasauer A, Sena LA, Diebold LP, Mazar AP, Chandel NS. Targeting SOD1 reduces experimental non–small-cell lung cancer. J Clin Invest. 2014 Jan 2;124(1):117-28.

Consumer Information

How It Works

Bottom Line: Superoxide dismutase supplements have not been shown to confer any health benefits.

Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme found in all cells of the human body. It breaks down superoxide radicals, which are toxic to living cells and cause DNA mutations, into harmless components consisting of oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. The theory behind taking SOD as a supplement is that it will confer extra protection against cellular and DNA damage, but this does not hold true because SOD cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream when taken orally. However, studies done in mice showed that when combined with wheat gliadin, SOD can protect against oxidative stress induced cell death and stress induced impairment of cognitive function.
SOD can be injected to avoid this problem, but injected SOD is considered to be an “orphan drug” by the FDA, and not a food supplement (and therefore is not sold over the counter.)

Purported Uses
  • As an anti-aging supplement
    There is no research to back this claim.
  • To prevent radiation-induced cystitis (bladder inflammation)
    A couple of studies support the use of superoxide dismutase injections to prevent cystitis. More research is needed. No studies support the use of oral superoxide dismutase supplements for this use.
  • To reduce inflammation
    This claim has no supporting research.
  • To treat osteoarthritis
    One clinical trial supports the use of superoxide dismutase injections into the knee for osteoarthritis, but more research is needed. The long-term effectiveness and safety of such injections is not known.
  • To treat scleroderma
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To treat urinary tract disorders
    There are no data to back this claim.
Side Effects

When given by injection, orgotein can cause an allergic reaction or pain and inflammation at the injection site.

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