Original Article

The efficacy of dietary Spirulina as an adjunct to chemotherapy to improve immune function and reduce myelosuppression in patients with malignant tumors

Yang Ge, Yi-Kun Kang, Li Dong, Li-Hong Liu, Guang-Yu An


Background: Recent studies have demonstrated functional benefits of Spirulina (Arthrospira sp.) in the treatment and prevention of cancer. However, it is unclear if Spirulina can be used to limit the side effects of chemotherapy in patients with malignant tumors.
Methods: In this study, cancer patients receiving four cycles of chemotherapy were randomized into control or treatment groups. The treated group consumed Spirulina for the first two cycles while the control group did not. The extent of myelosuppression and immune function were assessed after each cycle of chemotherapy, and patients were monitored for myelosuppression-related adverse events throughout the study period.
Results: In total, 100 patients were recruited and randomized into control (n=40) or treatment (n=60) groups. The white blood cell (WBC) and neutrophil (NEU) levels were similar in both groups at baseline while they were higher in the treated group relative to controls after Cycle1 (P=0.028 for WBC; P=0.006 for NEU) and Cycle2 (P=0.023 for WBC; P=0.013 for NEU). Hemoglobin (HGB) and platelet counts (PLT) were not statistically different between the groups at baseline or after treatment. Patients in the treatment group had a significantly lower rate of severe myelosuppression (P=0.034) and less modification of the chemotherapy regimen was necessary (P=0.012). After four cycles of chemotherapy, the IgM level and number of CD8+ T cells increased in the treatment group, but decreased in the control group (P=0.004 for IgM; P=0.022 for CD8+ T cells).
Conclusions: Spirulina reduces myelosuppression and improves immune function after chemotherapy in patients with malignant tumors.

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