The effects of Spirulina on anemia and immune function in senior citizens

Carlo Selmi, Patrick S Leung, Laura Fischer, Bruce German, Chen Yen Yang, Thomas P. Kenny, Gerry R. Cysewski, M. Eric Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Anemia and immunological dysfunction (i.e. immunosenescence) are commonly found in older subjects and nutritional approaches are sought to counteract these phenomena. Spirulina is a filamentous and multicellular bule-green alga capable of reducing inflammation and also manifesting antioxidant effects. We hypothesized that Spirulina may ameliorate anemia and immunosenescence in senior citizens with a history of anemia. We enrolled 40 volunteers of both sexes with an age of 50 years or older who had no history of major chronic diseases. Participants took a Spirulina supplementation for 12 weeks and were administered comprehensive dietary questionnaires to determine their nutritional regimen during the study. Complete cell count (CCC) and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) enzyme activity, as a sign of immune function, were determined at baseline and weeks 6 and 12 of supplementation. Thirty study participants completed the entire study and the data obtained were analyzed. Over the 12-week study period, there was a steady increase in average values of mean corpuscular hemoglobin in subjects of both sexes. In addition, mean corpuscular volume and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration also increased in male participants. Older women appeared to benefit more rapidly from Spirulina supplements. Similarly, the majority of subjects manifested increased IDO activity and white blood cell count at 6 and 12 weeks of Spirulina supplementation. Spirulina may ameliorate anemia and immunosenescence in older subjects. We encourage large human studies to determine whether this safe supplement could prove beneficial in randomized clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-254
Number of pages7
JournalCellular and Molecular Immunology
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

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Keywords

  • functional food
  • IDO
  • immunosenescence
  • red blood cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology

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