Blue-green Looks Good on ALS Patients

Blue-green algae may benefit those with ALS by delaying motor symptoms

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Spirulina, a nutrient-rich, blue-green algae, appears to provide neuroprotective support for dying motor neurons in mice with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a University of South Florida study.

Spirulina was shown to delay motor symptoms and disease progression in an ALS-mouse model by reducing inflammatory markers and motor-neuron death. The diet supplement may have a dual antioxidant effect on motor neurons, according to researchers.

ALS is a fatal, progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by the death of motor neurons that cause muscle weakness, atrophy and paralysis. Life expectancy from diagnosis is three to five years.

"Most available treatments relieve symptoms without altering the underlying disease," said Svitlana Garbuzova-Davis, PhD, DSc, assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair at USF. "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."

After 10 weeks of being fed Spirulina, mice were shown to have reduced inflammatory markers and motor neuron degeneration compared a control group.

In this study, researchers fed only pre-symptomatic mice the supplement. Further studies looking at the algae's effect on the lifespan of symptomatic ALS mice are now needed.

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Review Date: 
December 22, 2010
Last Updated:
December 22, 2010