The research, performed by Health Enhancement Products in conjunction with Wayne State University, assessed the potentially beneficial effects of the firms proprietary algal culture in supporting healthy cholesterol balance - finding that administration of the extract, known as PAZ, along with a high fat diet regimen improved the plasma lipid profile by increasing the HDL-cholesterol concentrations and decreasing the non-HDL cholesterol, as well as the TC/HDL-C ratio.
Led by Dr Smiti Gupta of Wayne State University, the team also revealed that the expression levels of important genes involved in HDL metabolism/reverse cholesterol transport "were beneficially altered" upon administration of PAZ and its biologically active sub-fraction referred to as BaP (biologically active fraction of PAZ).
"We have demonstrated that the dietary intervention with BaP can cause a beneficial change in the lipid and metabolomic profile of diet induced hypercholesterolemia in hamsters," concluded Gupta and her team - who published their research in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.
"In addition to improving the established risk factors associated with CVD, mainly increasing HDL-C, and up-regulating the mRNA expression of the Apo A1 gene, we identified the potentially valuable effect of the algal infusion on relatively new predictors of atherosclerosis, namely betaine, carnitine, and choline," the team added.
Amy Steffek, Ph.D., director of research & development at Health Enhancement Products commented: "Given that cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the US and other industrialised nations, the effects of our algal extracts in improving 'good' cholesterol, and therefore cardiovascular health, are significant and potentially wide-reaching."
"Whether the relationship between our bioactive extracts and increased HDL cholesterol is causal or correlative, the studies conducted show an improved metabolic state, despite the continuation of a high fat diet," she added.
The new research follows on from a previous study by Gupta in 2012. This previous research suggested that algal fractions and isolates may have a preventative beneficial effect against the negative effects of the high-fat diet on the animal's plasma cholesterol levels.
Specifically, the extracts significantly increased high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, aka "good" cholesterol), and reduced non-HDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and the ratio of total cholesterol/HDL-C, despite the ongoing consumption of high fat food.
In the new study, 50 hamsters were given a high fat diet for four weeks, at which point they became hypercholesterolemic. Then, the animals were grouped and given the extracts for 0 (untreated), 3, 7, 10, 14, and 21 days while remaining on the high fat diet.
Analysis of cholesterol and other lipid biomarkers showed that the PAZ extract may be a useful option for improving the plasma cholesterol profile despite the hypercholesterolemic state induced by a high fat diet, said the team behind the study.
Specifically, they said that 'bad' non-HDL cholesterol concentrations significantly decreased in all subjects consuming the PAZ extracts, when compared to those who were not treated.
Furthermore, increased levels of 'good' HDL-cholesterol could be seen as early as day three for the same group.
Indeed, by day 21 HDL-cholesterol levels increased by 28%, while non-HDL cholesterol levels decreased by 30%.
Additional metabolomic analysis revealed that supplementation with the PAZ extract correlated with significantly decreased levels of several metabolites which are independent predictors of increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
Gene expression analysis also showed a three-fold increase in expression levels of APO A1 involved in HDL-cholesterol metabolism by day 10, and a six-fold increase by day 21.
Source: Nutrition & Metabolism
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-10-55
"ProAlgaZyme sub-fraction improves the lipoprotein profile of hypercholesterolemic hamsters, while inhibiting production of betaine, carnitine, and choline metabolites."
Authors: Andreea Geamanu, Arvind Goja, Nadia Saadat, Pramod Khosla, Smiti V Gupta