Spirulina, wakame or goji berries do not lower markers of low-grade systemic inflammation in healthy subjects

Jose J. van den Driessche, Ronald P. Mensink, Jogchum Plat


Introduction: We have earlier reported that consumption of the algae spirulina (Arthrospira platensis or maxima) and wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) for 17 days, and a single dose of goji berries (Lycium barbarum) did not affect fasting or postprandial CVD risk markers in healthy subjects. However, evidence is increasing that low-grade systemic inflammation is also an important marker for CVD risk. Based on information from in vitro and animal studies, we hypothesize that both consumption of the algae spirulina and wakame as well as a single dose of goji berries lowers markers for low-grade inflammation.   

Methods: Two randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trials were performed. In the algae study, 35 non-hypercholesterolemic, healthy subjects consumed 4.8 grams of spirulina, wakame or placebo for 17 days, separated by 14-day washout periods. After 17 days, fasting serum TNFα, IL-6, IL-8, and hsCRP concentrations were measured. In the goji berry study, 17 healthy, overweight men received a mixed meal with or without 25 grams of dried goji berries. Before and up to 4 hours after meal intake, serum concentrations of TNFα, IL-6 and IL-8 were measured.       

Results: Consumption of spirulina or wakame did not affect serum concentrations of TNFα, IL-6, IL-8 or hsCRP. In the goji berry study, serum IL-6 and IL-8 concentrations increased postprandially. For IL-8, these increases were more pronounced after the goji berry meal compared to the control meal (P = 0.003). No effects on TNFα were observed. 

Conclusion: 17 days of spirulina or wakame consumption, or a single dose of goji berries did not lower markers of low-grade systemic inflammation in healthy, non-immunocompromised subjects. It is plausible that anti-inflammatory effects of these interventions can only be expected in subjects with an inflammatory risk.

Keywords: spirulina, wakame, goji berries, low-grade systemic inflammation, cytokines

Full Text: [Abstract] [Full Article]


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