Study of Cholesterol and AFA
Blue-Green Algae Has Dual Cholesterol Lowering Abilities
Researchers say they have confirmed, for the first time, that blue-green algae taken as a nutritional supplement can significantly lower cholesterol in animals. Furthermore, the algae works in two ways to reduce cholesterol according to the scientists, who were speaking today at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
The alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is a novel dietary supplement already available on the market. AFA contains significant amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), according to Christian Drapeau of Cell Tech in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He says that the algae's PUFAs seem to be exceptionally well absorbed by animals. Over the past decade, other research has suggested that PUFAs reduce blood cholesterol and that PUFA deficiency is linked with cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, certain forms of cancer, attention deficit disorder, and more.
In addition to providing PUFAs, Drapeau says the cholesterol-lowering effects of AFA are "likely to be mediated by something else though this alternative mechanism remains unidentified." He adds that, in his experiments with rats, the beneficial effects seem to be independent of the PUFAs present.
Drapeau says this is one of the first studies that provides scientific data supporting the numerous testimonials and empirical evidence that have encouraged the use of AFA as a dietary supplement for health benefits. He cautions, however, "we are currently doing studies to determine if the effects of AFA on cholesterol in rats will translate to humans." Drapeau collaborated with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.
Study of AFA as a Source of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Favorable Effects of Blue-Green Algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae on Rat Plasma Lipids
Rafail 1. Kushak,1 Christian Drapeau,2,3 Elizabeth M. Van Cott,1 Harland H. Winter1 1Combined Program in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition and Division of Laboratory Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; 2Cell Tech, Klamath Falls, or 3Current Address: Desert Lake Technologies, Klamath Falls, OR
Background: Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are essential for human health. There are indications that the lipid fraction of blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae contains about 50% of PUFA and may be a good dietary source of PUFA. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of diets supplemented with algae on blood plasma lipids.
Methods: Rats were fed with four different semi-synthetic diets: i) standard, with 5% soybean oil; ii) PUFA-free with 5% coconut oil; iii) PUFA-free with 10% algae; iv) PUFA-free with 15% algae. After 32 days the levels of plasma fatty acids, triglycerides and cholesterol were studied.
Results: Rats fed the PUFA-free diet demonstrated an absence of linolenic acid (LNA) in plasma; however, supplementation with algae resulted in the same level of LNA as controls, an increased levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, and a decreased level of arachidonic acid. Dietary supplementation with 10% and 15% algae decreased the plasma cholesterol to 54% and 25% of the control level, respectively (P<0.0005). Plasma triglyceride levels decreased significantly (P<0.005) after diet supplementation with 15% algae.
Conclusion: Algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a good source of PUFA and because of potential hypocholesterolemic properties should be a valuable nutritional resource.
JANA, vol. 2, No. 3, 2000, pp. 59-65
Study of AFA and the Immune System
Consumption of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae Has Rapid Effects on the Circulation and Function of Immune Cells in Humans
A novel approach to nutritional mobilization of the immune system Gitte S. Jensen,1 Donald 1. Ginsberg,1 Patricia Huerta,1 Monica Citton,1 and Christian Drapeau 2,3 1Department of Surgery, McGill University, Montreal Quebec 2Cell Tech, Klamath Falls, or 3Current Address: Desert Lake Technologies, Klamath Falls, OR
Objective:To examine the short-term effects of consumption of a moderate amount (1.5 grams) of the blue green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA), on the immune system.
Methods: Using a crossover placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blinded design, 21 volunteers were studied, including 5 long-term AFA consumers.
Results: Consumption of a moderate amount (1.5 grams) of the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae results in rapid changes in immune cell trafficking. Two hours after AFA consumption, a generalized mobilization of lymphocytes and monocytes, but not polymorph nucleated cells was observed. This included increases in CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ T cell subsets and CD19+ B cells. In addition, the relative proportions and absolute numbers of natural killer (NK) cells were reduced after AFA consumption. No changes were observed in the relative proportions of n6ve versus memory T cells, neither in the CD4 or the CD8 fractions. A mild, but significant reduction in phagocytic activity was observed for polymorph nucleated cells. When freshly purified lymphocytes were exposed to AFA extract in vitro, direct activation was not induced, as evaluated by tyrosine phosphorylation and proliferative activity.
Discussion: The changes in immune cell trafficking displayed high degree of cell specificity. Long-term consumers responded stronger, with respect to altered immune cell trafficking. In vitro, AFA did not induce a direct activation of lymphocytes. These data support a signaling pathway from gut-to-CNS-to-lymphoid tissue. The signals from CNS may be crucial for the rapid changes in the general distribution and specific recruitment we observed. Moderate anti-inflammatory modulation may account for the modification of phagocytic activity.
Conclusion:Consumption of AFA leads to rapid changes in immune cell trafficking, but not direct activation of lymphocytes. Thus, AFA increases the immune surveillance without directly stimulating the immune system.
JANA, vol. 2, No. 3, 2000, pp. 50-58