Several autoimmunes are on the mitochondrial disorders list, and both kinds of disorder are marked by muscle wasting and the reduced production of cellular ATP energy, which is impaired by toxin load including drugs. Statin drugs especially are known for this wasting (rhabdomyolysis). Autoimmune and wasting disorders, and the risk of the statin drug, can be improved by increasing cellular metabolism.
Diabetes, myasthenia gravis, polymyalgia, fibromyalgia, lupus, Crohns disease, arthritis, myositis, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and several others are characterized by low energy. The energy produced in the mitochondria of the cells, called ATP, is depleted while dealing with the toxins absorbed through exposure to a wide variety of environmental contaminants. Toxin load including infection, besides being a physical energy drain, can be a trigger for an autoimmune disorder, and ATP deficiency increases pain and other disabling symptoms as the tissues waste.
- moves substances into and out of the cell;
- moves muscles; opens and closes channels;
- produces signals that stimulate hormones;
- detoxifies the body;
- teams up with sulfate to become a sulfate donor for renewal and repair.
Without ATP, as in mitochondrial deletion, cellular function is impaired or stopped and the cell dies; this is what produces the wasting. The body needs ATP to repair and renew the parts that deteriorate and cause pain in autoimmune disorders:
- chondroitin sulfate (cartilage, bone, skin, cornea, arteries);
- dermatan sulfate (skin, blood vessels, heart);
- heparan sulfate (lungs, arteries, basement membranes);
- heparin (lung, liver, skin, mast cell granules);
- keratan sulfate (cartilage, cornea, vertebral discs).
About 88 lbs. of ATP per day are required for a resting human. Illness robs our bodies of ATP, and the sicker one is, the more energy one needs. Mitochondrial disorders (that involve the reduced production of ATP) are also serious and because there hasn't even been a treatment for these disorders the prognosis is always poor, ranging from progressive weakness to death. Using just one example, scleroderma is characterized by excessive deposits of collagen. Progressive systemic scleroderma, the serious type of the disease, can be fatal. In an article (published in Scleroderma Voice, 2003 #3) titled Fatigue and Weakness in Scleroderma Patients by Jane H. Park, Ph.D., from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Dr. Park reports, "Our studies showed that the thigh muscles of scleroderma patients at rest had an average reduction of 35% in concentrations of both ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and PCr (phosphocreatine) compared to normal muscles. These decreases were present in patients with both diffuse or limited scleroderma."
Mitochondrial and autoimmune disorders are now sometimes treated with supplements that increase ATP recycling. These common supplements include coenzyme Q10, carnitine, vitamins C and K, and various components of the vitamin B complex, especially riboflavin. Lecithin, which contains the needed phosphate for ATP and PCr production, should be an asset. Ginseng and Rhea extract take the more direct approach; they actually contain ATP. Magnesium is also an important supplement because it is required by all the muscle enzymes involved in energy production. Magnesium and ATP always tightly bind together, and ATP is only active in the presence of proper concentrations of magnesium. Magnesium levels are low in the muscles of patients with either diffuse or localized disease. During the stress of exercise, magnesium deficit in the muscle is actually increased, and this is probably why wasting disorders are usually made worse rather than better when a person exercises.
Salvatore DiMauro and Eric Schon, both of the Neurology Department at New York's Columbia University, reported in the January 1998 issue of The Neuroscientist, that even a little help can mean a lot in mitochondrial disorders, says DiMauro, a published neurologist. "Patients can be sick when they have 85 percent mutant mitochondria in a given tissue, but if they have 80 percent, they may be much, much better and may not show symptoms. So, if you can change the proportions even slightly, you may do the patient a lot of good." But ATP increase is useful not only to people with 'mutant mitchondria'. In an open label clinical study, people with allergies and autoimmune disorders who were given a commercial Rhea extract called ATP Boost in 1998 reported the following results of symptom remission: allergies 73 percent; pain, 77 percent; range of motion improvement, 76 percent. And 73 percent noted an increased energy level.
If a tiny energy boost from an external source can produce these results, a supplement that helps the mitochondria to function better may do much more than increase energy, it may help people with mitochondrial disorders, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. The primary precursor for ATP is glutathione, and glutathione also protects mitochondria from deletion by being their primary antioxidant as well. Clearly reasons to keep it up; glutathione precursors are undenatured whey and selenium.