Background: Spirulina platensis, a cynobacterium used frequently as a dietary supplement had been found to exhibit many immune-stimulating and antiviral activities. It had been found to activate macrophages, NK cells, T cells, B cells, and to stimulate the production of Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and other cytokines. Natural substances isolated from Spirulina platensis had been found to be potent inhibitors against several enveloped viruses by blocking viral absorption/penetration and some replication stages of progeny viruses after penetration into cells. We aimed to study whether this dietary supplement possesses any therapeutically feasible activity worthy of further larger controlled clinical evaluation.
Methods: Sixty six patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection and eligible for inclusion had been randomized to either Spirulina or Silymarin treated groups for a period of six months treatment.The two groups were followed up and blindly compared for early (after 3 months) and end of 6 months treatment virological response. The effects of both treatments on each of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), Chronic Liver Disease Questionnaire scores (CLDQ), Arizona Sexual Experience Scale scores (ASEX) and the occurrence of any attributable adverse events were also compared.
Results: Among the 30 patients who had been treated with Spirulina and completed the 6 months protocol, 4 patients (13.3%) had a complete end of treatment virological response and 2 patients (6.7%) had a partial end of treatment response defined as significant decrease of virus load of at least 2-logs10. Though the proportion of responders in Spirulina group was greater than in the Silymarin group, the difference was not statistically significant at the end of both 6 months (p = 0.12) and 3 months treatment (p = 0.22) by Exact test. Alanine aminotransferase as well as CLDQ and ASEX scores were found to be more significantly improved in Spirulina than in Silymarin treated group.
Conclusions: Our results could suggest a therapeutically feasible potential for Spirulina platensis in chronic HCV patients, worthy to conduct a larger sized and longer study to confirm these safety and efficacy encouraging results.
Trial registration: WHO Clinical Trial Registration ID: ACTRN12610000958088http://apps.who.int/trialsearch/trial.aspx?trialid=ACTRN12610000958088.