Linoleic acid is novel therapy for Crohn's disease
23 March 2012
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a naturally occurring compound
found in meat and dairy products, can improve symptoms of Crohn's
disease, according to a study by the Nutritional Immunology and
Molecular Medicine Laboratory (NIMML) at Virginia Tech.
Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD,
which includes ulcerative
colitis, afflicts over 1.4 million people in the United States.
Symptoms include abdominal cramping, fever, fatigue, loss of
appetite, skin and mouth ulcers, and diarrhoea or constipation. In
addition, the risk of developing colorectal cancer increases by
about one percent yearly in IBD patients. Currently, there is no
cure for Crohn's disease and the exact causes of it aren't fully
In collaboration with the Division of Gastroenterology and
Hepathology at University of North Carolina School of Medicine and
the Wake Forest Medical Center, researchers found that Crohn's
patients who took supplementary CLA showed noticeable improvement.
"In our recent open label study of CLA as a supplement in study
subjects with mild to moderate CD there was a marked improvement in
disease activity and quality of life in 50% of the subjects. CLA was
well tolerated by all of the study subjects. These findings are very
encouraging and will need to be verified in a randomized controlled
trial," said Professor Kim L. Isaacs, a Professor of
Gastroenterology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A CLA molecule
CLA affords those afflicted with mild to moderate IBD an
effective treatment without the unwanted side effects of many
synthetic drugs. "Furthermore, we have demonstrated that probiotic
bacteria can produce CLA locally and suppress colitis. Therefore,
CLA can be administered directly in capsules or indirectly through
CLA-producing probiotic bacteria," said Dr Raquel Hontecillas, an
Assistant Professor of Immunology at NIMML.
NIMML strives to develop safer and more effective therapies for
human chronic inflammatory diseases from Nature's own medicine
cabinet. To achieve this, NIMML uses advanced computational modeling
in addition to mechanistic and clinical experimentation.
Dr. Josep Bassaganya-Riera, a Professor of Immunology, principal
investigator of this human clinical trial, and the Director of the
NIMML and the Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens,
said, "The validation of the anti-inflammatory actions of CLA in the
gut is in line with our goal because CLA is a natural fatty acid
found in milk and ruminant products.
"The fully integrated bioinformatics, nutrition and immunology
experimentation capabilities of NIMML enable the acceleration of
translational biomedical research from computational and
mathematical modeling into the clinic.
"CLA is an example of an anti-inflammatory compound in a pipeline
of naturally occurring and synthetic compounds (eg abscisic acid,
eleostearic acid, terephthalanilides) with tremendous therapeutic
and prophylactic potential as anti-inflammatories,"
These findings, reported in the most recent edition of Clinical
Nutrition1, were awarded the American College of Gastroenterology
Presidential Poster of distinction for human clinical trials.
Bassaganya-Riera, J., R. Hontecillas, W.T. Horne, M. Sandridge,
H. Herfarth, R. Bloomfeld, and K. Isaacs (2012) Conjugated linoleic
modulates immune responses in patients with Mild to Moderately
active Crohn's disease. Clinical Nutrition (in press).