Mitochondrial research could be the key to a leukoderma cure
The internet is teeming with information about vitiligo: clinical papers, research updates, support groups, blogs and authority websites are all rich sources of fascinating facts and figures, comments and opinions. This is a good thing if, like me, you enjoy reading up on the subject.
Over the past five years or so – ever since discovering, by chance, that nutrition was the key to getting rid of my #vitiligo - I have made a point of finding out all I can on the wider subject and have amassed a fair amount of knowledge as a result. It is one thing to have found an effective treatment for myself – a wonderful and totally unexpected thing - but it would be even better if I also had a clearer idea of the root #cause, not least because - once that is known - a universal #cure is bound to follow.
Because I was able to reverse my pigment loss and recover almost 100% by taking nutritional supplements, my natural assumption was that the root cause of my vitiligo was poor digestion resulting in certain nutritional deficiencies. This theory seems all the more credible when you take into account that I have suffered from #intestinal problems all my life. However, this still doesn’t reveal a root cause for my past pigment loss because presumably something must have caused the intestinal problems in the first place. This thought process is a familiar one in the context of vitiligo: as soon as you start to investigate possible causes it becomes a bit like peeling away a layer of an onion only to find the next layer underneath. And, even if you get close to the heart of the matter, there’s always the possibility that we might not even be dealing with just one onion!
For example, it is a well-established fact that vitiligo sufferers have massively higher levels of hydrogen peroxide in their skin than people who do not have vitiligo. So, is this oxidative stress the cause of pigment loss? Well, yes – it probably is. But what is causing these abnormal levels of oxidative stress in the first place? One theory is that the particular type of oxidative stress that can lead to vitiligo is caused by something called mitochondrial failure.
If you have a background in biology or medicine you will know what mitochondria are. But, for the rest of us, they are the tiny structures present in most of the cells in our body that convert the energy from our food into a form that the cells can use. Each mitochondrion is made up of roughly 3000 genes and they perform a host of different biological tasks. But, put very simply, mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the human body to sustain life and support growth. On the other side of the coin, mitochondria sometimes fail, shutting off their vital energy supply and resulting in the death of cells, leading eventually to a variety of mitochondrial diseases.
One of the perfectly normal effects of mitochondrial activity is the production of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species), chemically reactive molecules that are a natural by-product of normal metabolism. However, #research has shown that mitochondrial ROS production in subjects with active vitiligo is out of control, causing abnormally high levels of #oxidative stress. So, it seems that the answer to the question “what causes the oxidative stress that, in turn, causes vitiligo?” could be mitochondrial failure. Of course this then poses the next question, which is what causes the mitochondrial failure? And so we come to another layer of the “vitiligo onion”!
A vitiligo blogger since 2011. My name is Caroline. I had vitiligo for nearly 50 years before finding an effective treatment. I created this blog to share my experiences with others affected by this skin condition.