GLUCOSAMINE-LIKE SUPPLEMENT INHIBITS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, TYPE 1 DIABETES
Metabolic therapy shows promise for treating autoimmune diseases, UC
Irvine study finds
Irvine, Calif., May 14, 2007 — A glucosamine-like dietary supplement
has been found to suppress the damaging autoimmune response seen in
multiple sclerosis and type-1 diabetes mellitus, according to
University of California, Irvine health sciences researchers.
In studies on mice, Dr. Michael Demetriou and colleagues with the UC
Irvine Center for Immunology found that N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc),
which is similar but more effective than the widely available
glucosamine, inhibited the growth and function of abnormal T-cells that
incorrectly direct the immune system to attack specific tissues in the
body, such as brain myelin in MS and insulin-producing cells of the
pancreas in diabetes. Study results appear on the online version of the
Journal of Biological Chemistry.
"This finding shows the potential of using a dietary supplement to help
treat autoimmune diseases," said Demetriou, an assistant professor of
neurology, and microbiology and molecular genetics. "Most importantly,
we understand how this sugar-based supplement inhibits the cells that
attack the body, making metabolic therapy a rational approach to
prevent or treat these debilitating diseases."
The UC Irvine study defines how metabolic therapy with the sugar GlcNAc
and other related nutrients modifies the growth and autoimmune
activitiy of T-cells. Virtually all proteins on the surface of cells,
including T-cells, are modified with complex sugars of variable lengths
and composition. Recent studies have shown that changes in these sugars
are often associated with T-cell hyperactivity and autoimmune disease.
In mouse models of both MS and type 1 diabetes, Demetriou and colleages
found that GlcNAc prevented this hyperactivity and autoimmune response
by increasing sugar modifications to the T-cell proteins. This therapy
normalized T-cell function and prevented development of paralysis in MS
and high blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetes.
This study comes on the heels of others showing the potential of GlcNAc
in humans. One previous clinical study reported that 8 of 12 children
with treatment-resistant autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease improved
significantly following two years of treatment with GlcNAc. No
significant adverse side effects were noted.
"Together, these findings identify metabolic therapy using dietary
supplements such as GlcNAc as potential treatments for autoimmune
diseases." Demetriou said. "Excitement for this treatment strategy
stems from the novel mechanism for affecting T-cell function and
autoimmunity and the availability and simplicity of its use. However,
additional studies in humans will be required to assess the full
potential of this therapeutic approach."
Autoimmune diseases such as MS and type 1 diabetes mellitus result from
poorly understood interactions between inherited genetic risk and
environmental exposure. MS results in neurological dysfunction, while
uncontrolled blood glucose in type 1 diabetes can lead to damage of
Ani Grigorian, Sung-Uk Lee, Wenqiang Tian, I-Ju Chen and Guoyan Gao of
UC Irvine and Richard Mendelsohn and James W. Dennis of the Samuel
Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto participated in the study,
which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National
Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,
the Wadsworth Foundation and the Canadian Institutes for Health
Thought this was interesting, the neurologist mentioned is one of the investigators of the ASSERT trial which I'm in.