Flaxseed: A potential treatment for lupus nephritis
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Flaxseed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (alpha-LA) which has anti-atherogenic properties, and lignans which are platelet activating factor (PAF)-receptor antagonists. These constituents of flaxseed, and its beneficial effects in the MRL/lpr lupus mouse prompted us to perform this dosing study in lupus nephritis patients. Nine patients were enrolled, eight of whom completed the study. After the baseline studies, patients were given 15, 30, and 45 g of flaxseed/day sequentially at four week intervals, followed by a five-week washout period. Compliance, disease activity, blood pressure, plasma lipids, rheology, PAF-induced platelet aggregation, renal function, and serum immunology were assessed. Flaxseed-sachet count and a significant increase of serum alpha-LA indicated good compliance for 15 and 30 g doses. Total and LDL cholesterol, and blood viscosity were significantly reduced with 30 g and to a lesser extent 45 g doses. PAF-induced platelet aggregation was inhibited by all doses. There was a significant decline in serum creatinine with 30 and 45 g, and a concomitant increase in creatinine clearance with increasing flaxseed dose. Proteinuria was reduced with 30 g and to a lesser extent with 45 g of flaxseed. Complement C3 was significantly elevated by all three doses. CD11b expression on neutrophils, a measure of C3bi receptors, was significantly reduced with the 30 g dose. In conclusion, 30 g flaxseed/day was well tolerated and conferred benefit in terms of renal function as well as inflammatory and atherogenic mechanisms important in the pathogenesis of lupus nephritis.
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