CLA shows anti-inflammatory potential for Crohn’s patients

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

CLA shows anti-inflammatory potential for Crohn’s patients
Daily supplements of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may benefit intestinal health, suggests new data from a study with Crohn’s disease.

Results of a pilot study with 13 people with Crohn’s disease indicated that daily supplements with BASF’s Tonalin-branded CLA were associated with a suppression of pro-inflammatory compounds, decreased disease activity and an improved quality of life.

Crohn´s disease is a chronic relapsing immune-inflammatory disease involving the gastrointestinal tract. The causes of the disease are largely unknown although there is increasing evidence of an interplay between genetic factors, environmental triggers and immune dysregulation.

“CLA represents a promising new supportive intervention for gut inflammation,”​ wrote researchers from Virginia Tech, the University of North Carolina, and Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Clinical Nutrition​.

“This is in contrast with the results of human clinical studies using n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in IBD that remain largely unimpressive.

“The present study has shed new light on the clinical potential of this compound and provided insights on the possible mechanisms of immune modulation targeted by CLA in the human system.”

The potential anti-inflammatory benefits of CLA were highlighted earlier this year by Michael Pariza, PhD​, recognized as the founder of the modern field of CLA research.

The ingredient

CLA is a fatty acid naturally present in ruminant meat and dairy products. Due to changes in the Western diet, average intake of CLA has fallen; if the fat is removed from a dairy product to make a low fat version that will be acceptable to consumers, CLA is removed along with it.

The ingredient was recently highlighted by market analyst Euromonitor as a nutrient with a “key” role to play in the global weight management market.

The ingredient is most often found as a mixture of isomers: cis-9, trans-11 and trans-10, cis-12.

Study details

Thirteen patients with mild to moderate disease activity were recruited to participate in this open label study and supplemented with a daily dose of CLA of 6 grams (Tonalin, BASF) for 12 weeks.

Results showed that CLA supplementation was associated with a suppression in levels of certain forms of T cells in the blood, which are known to produce pro-inflammatory compounds.

Disease severity, as measured by the Crohn’s disease activity index (CDAI), was significantly improved, with a drop in CDAI from 245 to 187 over the 12 weeks.

“Dissatisfaction with current traditional therapies, the chronicity of the disease and concern over side effects have resulted in increased use of naturally occurring and potentially safer compounds such as CLA,”​ explained the researchers.

“Accordingly, the incidence of complementary and alternative medicine usage among IBD patients was estimated to be 49.5%, but limited information is available regarding their mechanisms of action, clinical efficacy and tolerability in humans with IBD.”

“This is the first study investigating the immune modulatory effects and potential clinical efficacy of oral CLA supplementation in patients with Crohn’s disease.”

The researchers concluded that, based on these results, “a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with several doses of CLA is warranted”​.

Source: Clinical Nutrition
Volume 31, Pages 721-727, doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2012.03.002
“Conjugated linoleic acid modulates immune responses in patients with mild to moderately active Crohn’s disease”
Authors: J. Bassaganya-Riera, R. Hontecillas, W.T. Horne, M. Sandridge, H.H. Herfarth, R. Bloomfeld, K.L. Isaacs

Related topics: Research, Gut/digestive health

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