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Clinical studies & immune system

Studies report the ability of Chlorella to stimulate the immune system

A recent study, conducted by Jung Hyun Kwak (2012) and his team of researchers from the University of Seoul (South Korea), tends to demonstrate that Chlorella would be able to stimulate the immune activity of a healthy adult having consumed 5 g per day of Organic Chlorella vulgaris in tablets for eight weeks.

We already knew from in vitro studies published a few years ago that Chlorella can have a positive effect on the immunity of animals. We can now talk about an effect of Chlorella on humans thanks to a double-blind study against placebo by a team of researchers from Seoul University (South Korea). The results show that after 8 weeks, Chlorella consumers (5g/day) present a significant increase in the number of immune system cells such as NK lymphocytes compared to the placebo group. The same is true for cells such as interferon-gamma, interleukin-12, interleukin-1 beta and Th1 lymphocytes.

A- Preclinical studies

Chlorella (vulgaris or pyrenoidosa according to the studies) affects the immune system by inducing an increase in the number and activity of macrophages and polynuclear leukocytes (Kojima et al, 1973; Miyazawa et al, 1988; Tanaka et al, 1986; Konishi et al, 1985; Komiyama et al, 1986; Yamaguchi et al, 1985, Miyazawa et al (1988) (Hasegawa et al, 1989) (Mohd Azamai et al, 2009).

Stimulation of protection against E. coli infection in mice

The injection of Chlorella vulgaris allows the survival of mice injected with E. coli (high mortality in control groups)

The effect is even more obvious in mice to which a severe granulocytopenia has been induced by cyclophosphamide.
Stimulation of cytotoxic activity against implanted tumors in mice and rats

The injection or ingestion of Chlorella pyrenoidosa allows the survival of 70 to 80% at 60 days in mice to which murine mammary carcinoma or murine leukemia cells have been implanted (100% mortality at 20 days in the control group).

It has been shown that in rats induced to develop hepatocarcinoma, Chlorella vulgaris supplementation induces a decrease in the proliferation of malignant cells.
In rats induced to develop hepatocarcinoma (ethionine associated with a choline-deficient diet), it has been shown that Chlorella vulgaris supplementation induces, in a dose-dependent manner (50-300 mg/Kg), a decrease in hepatocyte proliferation associated with an increase in apoptosis, regression of the expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and an increase in the expression of the pro-apoptotic caspase 8

B- Clinical studies

The first clinical studies show the effects of Chlorella supplementation on the stimulation of immune defenses, (Merchant et al., 1990), (Halperin et al., 2003), (Nakano S et al., 2007)

The results suggest that a dietary supplementation in Chlorella can help patients suffering from cancerous tumors by stimulating their immune system.

Chlorella allows them to fight against the disease and increases their capacity to protect themselves from external infections that could only make them more fragile.

During the study on glioma patients, it appears that the dietary supplementation with Chlorella helped them to maintain normal quantities and proportions of peripheral T lymphocytes.

This same study also showed that the patients had experienced fewer respiratory infections and pathologies similar to those caused by influenza. Subjectively, patients reported that supplementing with Chlorella helped them keep their strength up and decreased the usual number of colds and other common illnesses. This is in agreement with Tanaka’s (1986) theory that certain species of Chlorella protect the host from opportunistic agents causing infections in immunocompromised states related to cancer, chronic disease or organ transplantation.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of immunostimulation in response to influenza-like vaccination showed no significant effect under the study conditions, although an improvement was seen in people over 50 years of age.

A study in Japan showed that a consumption of 6 grams per day of Chlorella during pregnancy allowed to reduce by approximately 30% the concentration of dioxins in the maternal milk. At the same time, a significant increase in the concentration of immunoglobulin (Ig)A in milk was found. The consumption of Chlorella by pregnant and breastfeeding women would thus have a double beneficial effect for the infants, that of reducing their exposure to dioxins and that of better protecting them from the risks of infections.

Sources

Halperin S.A. et al. (2003) Safety and immunoenhancing effect of a Chlorella-derived dietary supplement in healthy adults undergoing influenza vaccination: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. CMAJ; 169(2):111-117

Hasegawa T. et al. (1989) Augmentation of the resistance against Escherichia coli by oral administration of a hot water extract of Chlorella vulgaris in rats. Int. J. Immunopharmacol.; 11(8): 971-976

Huss V.A.R. et al. (1999) Biochemical taxonomy and molecular phylogeny of the genus Chlorella sensu lato (Chlorophyta) J Phycol; 35:587-598

Kojima M. et al. (1973) A new Chlorella polysaccharide and its accelerating effect on the phagocytic activity of the reticuloendothelial system. Recent Adv. RES Res.; 13:11.

Komiyama K. et al. (1986) An acidic polysaccharide chlon A, from Chlorella pyrenoidosa. 2. Anti-tumor activity and immunological response. Chemotherapy; 34:302-307.

Konishi F. et al. (1985) Anti-tumor effect induced by a hot water extract of Chlorella vulgaris (CE): resistance to Meth-A tumor growth mediated by CE-induced polymorphonuclear leucocytes. Cancer lmmunol lmmunother.; 19:73-78.

Konishi F. et al. (1990) Enhanced resistance against Escherichia coli infection by subcutaneous administration of the hot-water extract of Chlorella vulgaris in cyclophosphamide-treated mice. Cancer Immunol Immunother; 32(1) 1-7

Merchant R.E. et al. (1990) Dietary Chlorella pyrenoidosa for patients with malignant brain tumor : effects on immunocompetence, quality of life, and survival; Phytotherapy Res. ; 4:220-231

Miyazama Y. et al. (1988) Immunomodulation by unicellular green algae (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) in tumor-bearing mice. J Ethnopharmacol.; 24:135-146.

Mohd Azamai E.S. et al. (2009) Chlorella vulgaris triggers apoptosis in hepatocarcinogenesis-induced rats. J. Zhejiang Univ Sci B; 10(1):14-21

Randall E. et al. (1990) Dietary Chlorella pyrenoidosa for patients with malignant brain tumor: Effects on immunocompetence, quality of life, and survival. Phytotherapy Res; 4:220-231.

Tanaka K. et al. (1986) Augmentation of host defense by a unicellular alga, Chlorella vulgaris, to Escherichia coli infection. Infect Immun.; 53:267-271.

Umezawa I, et al. (1982) An acidic polysaccharide. chlon A, from Chlorella pyrenoidosa. Chemotherapy; 30:1041-1045.

Yamaguchi N. et al. (1985) Immunomodulation by single cellular algae. (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) and anti-tumor activities for tumor-bearing mice. Third Int Congress Dev Comp Immunol, Reims, France.

Nakano S, Takekoshi H, Nakano M., Chlorella (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) supplementation decreases dioxin and increases immunoglobulin a concentrations in breast milk. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):134-42.

Jung Hyun Kwak, Seung Han Baek, Yongje Woo, Jae Kab Han, Byung Gon Kim, Oh Yoen Kim, Jong Ho Lee. Beneficial immunostimulatory effect of short-term Chlorella supplementation: enhancement of Natural Killer cell activity and early inflammatory response (Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial). Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:53. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-53.