Evidence from Administration to Werner Syndrome Patient
We here announce that our AstaReal® astaxanthin significantly improved NAFLD in patients with Werner syndrome, known as progeria, in a clinical study conducted by the Department of Clinical Cell Biology and Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University (Prof. Kotaro Yokote), which was published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society (JAGS：June 2015, Vol. 63, No.6, 1271-1273).
What is Werner syndrome?
Werner syndrome, also called progeria, is a rare recessive disorder, clinically characterized by the juvenile onset of “symptoms generally regarded as an aging indicator.” In typical Werner syndrome patients, for example, symptoms specific to the elderly including white hair, hair loss and cataract start in their 20s with increasing risks of age-related diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis. These diseases then develop one after another in young to middle age, resulting in an average life expectancy of around 50 years. According to genetic research, the cause is supposed to be unrepaired DNA accumulation due to an insufficiency of helicase, an enzyme contributing to DNA repair, or decreased particular tissue cells due to cell death accelerated by telomere shortening at an abnormally fast pace.
Result from the administration of a dietary supplement “AstaReal ACT”
A Werner syndrome patient who visited the Chiba University Hospital was suffering from diabetes mellitus. Liver computed tomography (CT) revealed many lipid droplets in liver cells, indicating Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) with serious hepatic steatosis.
After consultation with the patient, attending physicians including Dr. Minoru Takemoto and Prof. Yokote tried astaxanthin with an effect to extinguish active oxygen, by which the liver might be under oxidative stress due to active oxygen. For astaxanthin, the patient took 2 capsules of AstaReal ACT (containing natural astaxanthin of 6 mg per 1 capsule) everyday (i.e. astaxanthin at a dose of 12 mg/day). AstaReal ACT is supplied by the AstaReal Co., Ltd. of the Fuji Chemical group (President: Mitsunori Nishida) as a “dietary supplement” manufactured by extractive purification from Haematococcus pluvialis with biotechnology. After 3 months of treatment, liver CT showed a significant decrease of lipid droplets in the liver. The treatment with astaxanthin 12 mg/day was continued upon patient request for further 3 months, resulting in additional decrease of lipid droplets noted on liver CT. Blood test confirmed that the patients’ liver function returned to normal, with improvement in hepatitis markers including aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Such preferable outcomes from the 6-month treatment encouraged the patient to continue to take astaxanthin for nearly 2 years after that without any recurrence of NAFLD nor side effects due to the long-term treatment.
Werner syndrome patients tend to be insulin resistant due to visceral fat accumulation. In addition, their mitochondrial dysfunction leads to the high incidence of active oxygen, and enzymes to eliminate active oxygen are underactive. Since the liver easily receives longterm oxidative stress due to these factors, the patient in this case possibly experienced NAFLD.
Meanwhile, many basic studies have demonstrated that the strong antioxidant effect of astaxanthin stabilizes the plasma membrane, improves mitochondrial function, and inhibits DNA damage and inflammatory response as well. In a study with mouse models of diabetes mellitus, astaxanthin actually mitigated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and inflammation in the liver. Such multiple effects probably brought the therapeutic success in this case.
Although the potential of astaxanthin treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has already been expected from the result of a study with NASH mouse models conducted by Associate Prof. Tsuguhito Ota, et al, the Kanazawa University Brain/Liver Interface Medicine Research Center (a health column, the Sankei Shimbun, April 8 2014), this is the world’s first report of a clinical study involving human subjects. The result mentioned above was obtained from 1 patient with rare genetic disease, but it is a very valuable case report in that the patient had a clear etiopathogenesis and medical history. For further data on this clinical study, we will present at the 62nd Kanto/Koshinetsu regional meeting of the Japan Geriatrics Society held on September 26 of this year.
Excessive drinking and hepatitis virus infection have been attributed so far in causing hepatic cirrhosis and hepatitis. In order to prevent or treat these diseases, the limitation of alcohol use and virus eradication with antiviral agents are considered to be effective, and in fact, they have provided expected efficacy. However, NAFLD, a symptom causing hepatitis in the absence of excessive drinking history and virus infection, is often seen in recent days, which is becoming a major issue to overcome. NAFLD develops even in people with obesity, as well as metabolic syndrome, and may lead to hepatic steatosis. In Japan, there are many people with NAFLD, including 10 million carriers. In 10% to 20% of them (1 million to 2 million people), this condition progresses to NASH, resulting in hepatic cirrhosis and hepatitis. Diet modification to prevent NAFLD and the search for drugs or health foods to prevent/inhibit NASH are in urgent demand.
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