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 understood.
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.
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).