The article gives an overview of squalene, a naturally occurring antioxidant and its medical applications for human beings. The sources and properties of squalene and its occurrence in human beings are discussed. Deep sea sharks belonging to the family squalidae are the richest source of squalene.
Squalene’s cytoprotective activity, antioxidant property, cholesterol lowering property and effect of squalene on testosterone level, obesity and high blood pressure are detailed. Rapid transdermal absorption, creation of moisture barrier, highspreadability, non-greasy texture and antibacterial properties of squalene make it an excellent skin protector and finds application against eczema and in anti-aging and wrinkle protecting cosmetics. Being an adjuvant in vaccines, it stimulates the immune system and increases response to vaccines.
Being a safe and naturally occurring antioxidant, its application for human health is very important. Its availability in nature viz., from deep sea shark liver and olive oil cannot meet the growing demand of industry. Synthesis of squalene by organic hemisynthesis should be explored to meet the demand.
Vegetable oils such as olive oil, palm oil, wheat germ oil, amaranth oil and rice bran oil contain varying amounts (0.1 to 0.7%) of squalene.
Deep sea shark is the richest source of squalene in nature. The tropical deep sea shark contains as high as 80% squalene in its liver oil.
Vegetable oils such as olive oil, palm oil, wheat germ oil, amaranth oil and rice bran oil contain varying amounts (0.1 to 0.7%) of squalene. It is also called as spinacene and supraene. Deep sea shark is the richest source of squalene in nature (Gopakumar,1997). In fact, the compound got the name squalene as it was identified from the oil of the deep sea shark belonging to the genus Squalus. The tropical deep sea shark (Centrophorus artomarginatus) contains as high as 80% squalene in its liver oil. Basking shark liver oil also contains high amounts of squalene. Squalene is an all trans isoprenoid with six isoprene units. Structurally it is called (all-E) 2, 6, 10, 15, 19, 23-hexamethyl-2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22-tetrecosahexaene.
• Available research findings have shown that substantial amount of dietary
squalene is absorbed, a major part of which is used to synthesize cholesterol.
This increase is not associated with elevation of plasma cholesterol in humans as a result of concomitant faecal elimination. Hence, the theory, that increased
consumption of squalene is likely to enhance serum cholesterol is misplaced.
A dietary supplementation of 500 mg of squalene day-1 appears to normalize
plasma cholesterol levels, LDL and HDL cholesterol values.
• Squalene also confers many protective benefits to patients exposed to radiation
treatment. Squalene assists in maintaining white cell counts during radiation
treatment of cancer patients. Besides, it also protects the skin from many ill effects of UV radiation.
• The most exciting application of squalene for human health is its use as a safe
and naturally occurring antioxidant.