University of South Florida researchers may have found that using a blue-green algae as a nutritional supplement for mice with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can help to protect and support motor neurons.
Svitlana Garbuzova-Davis, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida, and Paula C. Bickford, Ph.D., co-author of the study and a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida, have discovered that a specific dietary supplement with blue-green algae may help delay the symptoms of ALS in mice.
The blue-green algae is called Spirulina, and it is a nutrient-rich supplement that was used by the Aztecs as a food source. Spirulina, when fed to mice with ALS, may be capable of delaying the onset of ALS-related symptoms, such as motor problems and increased inflammatory markers.
“ALS is a degenerative motor neuron disease,” said Garbuzova-Davis. “Most available treatments relieve symptoms without altering the underlying disease. However, evidence for oxidative stress has been associated with ALS and, in our past studies, we demonstrated potent decreases in markers of oxidative damage and inflammation in aged rats fed diets supplemented with Spirulina or spinach. In this initial study, the diet supplement was fed only to pre-symptomatic mice. Further studies showing the diet supplement’s effect on the lifespan of symptomatic ALS mice are needed to prove the treatment’s effectiveness.”
The University of South Florida researchers believe that Spirulina may have combined anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics that support motor neurons, helping to offset the symptoms of ALS. The study shows that feeding a G93A mouse model a nutritional Spirulina diet over a 10-week period resulted in delayed disease progression and motor problems, decreased motor neuron death and the reduction of inflammatory markers.
“The focus of our future ALS experiments will include motor neuron counts and examination of lifespan following dietary Spirulina supplementation in symptomatic ALS mice,” said Bickford.
This study was published in The Open Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Journal.
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