The molecular nature of lipoic acid (LA) clarifies its capability of taking part to a variety of biochemical reactions where redox state is meaningful. The pivotal action of LA is the antioxidant activity due to its ability to scavenge and inactivate free radicals. Furthermore, LA has been shown to chelate toxic metals both directly and indirectly by its capability to enhance intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels. This last property is due to its ability to interact with GSH and recycle endogenous GSH. LA exhibits significant antioxidant activity protecting against oxidative damage in several diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders. Interestingly, LA is unique among natural antioxidants for its capability to satisfy a lot of requirements, making it a potentially highly effective therapeutic agent for many conditions related with oxidative damage. In particular, there are evidences showing that LA has therapeutic activity in lowering glucose levels in diabetic conditions. Similarly, LA supplementation has multiple beneficial effects on the regression of the mitochondrial function and on oxidative stress associated with several diseases and aging.
The aim of the present review is to describe the molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of LA under various experimental conditions and disease and how to exploit such effect for clinical purposes.
LA has pleiotropic effects in different pathways related with several diseases, its use as a potential therapeutic agent is very promising.