The results of a preclinical study add new evidence that a multimineral dietary supplement known as Aquamin may be a simple and effective way to reduce the long-term health consequences of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Aquamin, derived from calcified red seaweed, is rich in calcium, magnesium and 72 other minerals and trace elements.
About 25% of people in the United States are affected by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is characterized by excess fat stored in the liver. Some people with this disease develop a more aggressive form known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in which the liver is inflamed. This can progress to fibrosis, advanced scarring called cirrhosis, liver failure, and cancer.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a growing public health challenge that is currently being addressed with an emphasis on lifestyle changes, particularly diet, to prevent fatty accumulation in the liver. New approaches are needed because it doesn’t work for everyone.”
Muhammad Nadeem Aslam, MD, research team leader, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Isabelle Harber, an undergraduate researcher in Aslam’s lab, will present the new research at the annual meeting of the American Society for Investigative Pathology at the Experimental Biology (EB) 2022 meeting, taking place April 2-5 in Philadelphia.
“Most people living in Western society do not meet USDA daily intake guidelines for intake of calcium and magnesium and, presumably, other minerals nutritionally associated with these minerals,” Harber said. . “We are working to find out if a mineral supplement could provide an inexpensive, low-toxic approach to mitigating the devastating consequences of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”
In preliminary studies, researchers fed mice a high-fat diet to induce the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and NASH. They studied these mice for 15 to 18 months to observe the full spectrum of liver disease, including advanced fibrotic changes and liver cancer.
These studies found a dramatic reduction in the consequences of late-stage NASH in animals that received the high-fat diet and received the multimineral supplement, compared to those that did not receive the supplement. In short-term studies lasting around 24 weeks, researchers have identified protein changes associated with NASH and a reduction in tumor formation in longer studies.
“In long-term studies, we observed that most mice on a high-fat diet had large liver tumors, while mice on the same diet had no tumors when given the mineral supplement. “Aslam said. “These results confirmed our previous findings that minerals may have the potential to reduce the downstream consequences of fatty liver disease.”
Since the short-term and long-term studies were performed on different types of mice, the researchers next plan to perform both sets of studies on the same animals. This will allow them to identify early protein changes in individual animals that may predict later consequences or be associated with protection against such consequences.
They recently completed a 90-day pilot phase trial in 30 healthy patients at risk for colorectal cancer who were randomized to receive Aquamin or a placebo. The trial showed that the mineral supplement had no safety or tolerability issues, including any potential liver damage. They are also beginning to conduct pilot clinical studies to assess the safety and tolerability of Aquamin for 180 days. Liver injury and inflammation markers will be part of the endpoints of the study.
Isabelle Harbert will present this research from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., Sunday, April 3, at Exhibit/Poster Hall AB, Pennsylvania Convention Center (Poster Board Number D20) (abstract) and 6 p.m., April 3, on Terrace 2/3 (abstract). Contact the media team for more information or to obtain a free press pass to attend the meeting.