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Spirulina and Hay Fever

Effects of a Spirulina-based dietary supplement on cytokine production from allergic rhinitis patients.

J Med Food. 2005 Spring;8(1):27-30

  • Mao TK,
  • Van de Water J,
  • Gershwin ME.

 

Division of Rheumatology/Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California at Davis, School of Medicine, Davis, California, USA.

 

Spirulina represents a blue-green alga that is widely produced and commercialized as a dietary supplement for modulating immune functions, as well as ameliorating a variety of diseases. We have previously shown that the in vitro culture of Spirulina with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) modulated the production of cytokines. In the present study, we evaluated the impact of a Spirulina-based dietary supplement (Earthrise Nutritionals, Inc., Irvine, CA) on patients with allergic rhinitis by assessing the production of cytokines [interleukin (IL)-4, interferon (IFN)-gamma, and IL-2] critical in regulating immunoglobulin E-mediated allergy. In a randomized double-blinded crossover study versus placebo, allergic individuals were fed daily with either placebo or Spirulina, at 1,000 mg or 2,000 mg, for 12 weeks. PBMCs isolated before and after the Spirulina feeding were stimulated with phytohemagglutinin (PHA) prior to determining the levels of cytokine from cell culture supernatants. Although Spirulina seemed to be ineffective at modulating the secretion of Th1 cytokines (IFN-gamma and IL-2), we discovered that Spirulina, administered at 2,000 mg/day, significantly reduced IL-4 levels by 32% from PHA-stimulated cells. These results indicate that Spirulina can modulate the Th profile in patients with allergic rhinitis by suppressing the differentiation of Th2 cells mediated, in part, by inhibiting the production of IL-4. To our knowledge, this is the first human feeding study that demonstrates the protective effects of Spirulina towards allergic rhinitis.

 
 

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