Our pet food expert Francesca Susca, DVM, Ph.D., was invited to give a lecture at the 5th Nordic Pet Food Conference in Porto, Portugal, an event dedicated to pet nutrition, health, and well-being. She focused on the complex phenomenon of oxidative stress, an issue that concerns humans and pets alike. Dr. Susca also discussed the specificity and benefits of primary and secondary dietary antioxidants for applications in pet food, highlighting the synergy between complementary solutions.
What is oxidative stress?
During physiologic metabolic processes, the body’s cells produce free radicals as well as antioxidant molecules to maintain the oxidative homeostasis. However, an imbalance between pro-oxidant and antioxidant molecules can occur either because of increased production of free radicals or because of decreased antioxidant availability. The result is oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has been recognized to be involved in many inflammatory, degenerative and neoplastic disorders, both in humans and pets. These include, among others, heart disease, cerebrovascular events, obesity, urinary tract disorders or kidney diseases. Furthermore, non-pathological conditions, which lead to increased production of pro-oxidant molecules, are frequent and include intense physical activity or the aging process.
Antioxidants: combination is the key
Oxidative stress starts with the formation of reactive oxygen species (°O2–, H2O2 or OH°), which can react with cell components (DNA, proteins or lipids), to generate secondary free radicals (ROO°).
There are two main families of antioxidants, based on their action:
- Primary antioxidants: enzymatic systems that control the formation of free radicals by regulating the production of reactive oxygen species.
- Secondary antioxidants: substances such as vitamin E, vitamin C or polyphenols, which are able to repair oxidized molecules once they have been formed.
When it comes to dietary antioxidants, both primary and secondary antioxidants are of interest because they act at different levels of the oxidative chain. Dr. Susca explained their different roles and modes of action giving a deeper look at the key role of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme in reducing free radical formation. In vivo trials in horses — and preliminary evaluations in dogs on the supplementation with a naturally SOD-rich feed ingredient — helps to reinforce the role of an antioxidant defense system in challenging conditions such as intense physical activity.
Dr. Susca is convinced that: “Optimal antioxidant strategy for pets should combine different complementary molecules, both primary and secondary antioxidants, as they target different steps in the oxidative pathway. Thus, we can obtain a synergistic effect, rather than providing a high level of one single molecule”.
The aim of the Nordic Pet Food Conference is to showcase key current thinking in the areas of pet food science, technology, product formats and marketing linked to the overall theme of “Health & Well-being”.
For more information about yeast and Lallemand’s portfolio for pet nutrition, visit our specific Pet Products page.