Crab and other crustacean shells may help prevent and treat inflammatory disease

June 24, 2014
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University and their colleagues have developed an oral form of microparticles in crab and other crustacean shells as a dietary supplement that may prevent and treat IBD and other inflammatory diseases. Credit: Florida Atlantic University

Microparticles in crab, shrimp and lobster shells have anti-inflammatory mechanisims that could lead to the development of novel preventive and therapeutic strategies for those who suffer from IBD. Since these shells are abundant and a major waste in the seafood industry, they may provide an alternative to costly drugs that don't always work.

Yoshimi Shibata, Ph.D., professor of biomedical science in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, has received a $380,552 grant from the National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further investigate how microparticles called "chitin" found in crab, shrimp and have anti-inflammatory mechanisms that could lead to the development of novel preventive and therapeutic strategies for individuals who suffer from (IBD) and others diseases.

Current medications for IBD include antibiotics, corticosteroids and other biologic anti-inflammatory drugs that are costly and don't always work. Since lobster, crab and shrimp shells are a major waste in the , chitin is abundant and low-cost to prepare. Chitin microparticles are also non-toxic, biodegradable and non-allergenic, and therefore safe for oral ingestion as a dietary food supplement.

Shibata's collaborators are Zhongwei Li, Ph.D. in FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine; C. Kathleen Dorey, Ph.D. at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; and Emiko Mizoguchi, M.D., Ph.D., with the Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

Shibata is an immunologist whose research focuses on macrophages, which are multifunctional cells that are essential for the host protective immune systems and inflammation.

Many scientists now believe that most—or perhaps all—chronic diseases stem from , which plays a direct role in diseases such as IBD, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma and many other diseases.

"Under normal conditions, inflammation is a process that actually protects health and promotes healing by mobilizing the immune system to attack invading bacteria and kill them through the immune system reaction," said Shibata. "Chronic inflammation on the other hand harms instead of heals because the attack never stops."

Crab, shrimp and lobster shells contain carbohydrates, calcium and protein. Shibata and his colleagues designed the active carbohydrates in these crustaceans by removing the calcium and protein and making small particles with the carbohydrates that are similar to bacteria, called mimetic microbes. They have developed an oral form of this substance as a dietary supplement. The team has demonstrated that oral administration of chitin microparticles reduces disease conditions of allergic asthma, food allergies, colitis and food borne infections in animal models and seasonal allergies in humans. They have also conducted additional studies to advance their understanding of the mechanisms underlying the effects of chitin microparticles on macrophage activation.

"In this new study, we are going to focus on intestinal macrophages and how these mimetic microbes we have developed can produce anti-inflammatory activities, normalize the gut bacterial flora and ultimately improve the symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease," said Shibata.

According to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, more than 1.4 million Americans suffer from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and approximately 70,000 new cases of IBD are diagnosed each year. Children under the age of 18 are the fastest growing population of IBD patients.

"The causes of inflammatory bowel disease and the factors that influence its activity are not known," said David J. Bjorkman, M.D., M.S.P.H., a gastroenterologist and dean and executive director of medical affairs for FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. "The impact of this condition can range from mild to severe debilitation."

Explore further: Cell stress inflames the gut: New insights into chronic bowel inflammation

Related Stories

Cell stress inflames the gut: New insights into chronic bowel inflammation

June 23, 2014
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common condition in western industrialized countries. What triggers it, however, is not yet fully understood. Nutrition researchers at Technische Universität München (TUM) have now ...

TNF inhibitors for treatment of bowel disease not linked with increased risk of cancer

June 17, 2014
In a study that included more than 56,000 patients with inflammatory bowel disease, use of a popular class of medications known as tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonists was not associated with an increased risk of cancer ...

Females fend off gut diseases

June 11, 2013
At least among mice, females have innate protection from certain digestive conditions, according to a new Michigan State University study.

Two genes linked to inflammatory bowel disease

April 22, 2014
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a group of chronic inflammatory disorders of the intestine that result in painful and debilitating complications, affects over 1.4 million people in the U.S., and while there are treatments ...

Opening up new pathways for treating inflammatory bowel diseases

August 12, 2013
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition affecting 1 in 250 people in Europe. Current treatment is ineffective for many. However, a team of European scientists has increased understanding of the causes of IBD, ...

Adhesion molecule shows promise for treating colitis

April 29, 2014
The adhesion molecule CD146 plays a vital role in inflammation and offers a promising therapeutic target for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as well as preventing colitis-associated colorectal cancer, say scientists. ...

Recommended for you

Breathing exercises help asthma patients with quality of life

December 13, 2017
A study led by the University of Southampton has found that people who continue to get problems from their asthma, despite receiving standard treatment, experience an improved quality of life when they are taught breathing ...

Study highlights the need for research into prevention of inflammatory bowel disease

December 7, 2017
Countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America have seen a rise in incidence of inflammatory bowel disease as they have become increasingly industrialised and westernised, a new study has found.

Air pollution can increase asthma risk in adults, even at low levels

November 24, 2017
Living close to a busy road can be bad for your respiratory health if you are middle aged, new Australian research has found.

Evidence found of oral bacteria contributing to bowel disorders

October 20, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found evidence that suggests certain types of oral bacteria may cause or exacerbate bowel disorders. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes ...

New compound discovered in fight against inflammatory disease

September 22, 2017
A 10-year study by University of Manchester scientists for a new chemical compound that is able to block a key component in inflammatory illness has ended in success.

Asthma researchers test substance from coralberry leaves

September 14, 2017
The coralberry could offer new hope for asthmatics. Researchers at the University of Bonn have extracted an active pharmaceutical ingredient from its leaves to combat asthma, a widespread respiratory disease. In mice, it ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.