Friday, July 20, 2012

Build a Bigger Mitochondrial Engine and Double Your Endurance With Chitooligosaccharides! Glucosamine Mix from Chitosan Acts on Sirt1 & AMPK, Similar to Resveratrol

Figure 1: Glucosamine composition of the chitooligosaccharide used in the study (data adapted from Jeong. 2012).
Usually I try to avoid this term, as it seems to imply that there is, or at least soon will be a pill that would allow you to stay the lazy bastard you are now and still make it into your old age, healthy lean, attractive and vigorous, but in this case the word "exercise mimetic" is unquestionably what describes the effects of 6 weeks of oral supplementation with chitooligosaccharide described in a recently published paper by scientists from the Amorepacific Corporation Research & Development Center and the Kyung Hee University in South Korea best. I have to give props to my friend Carl Lanore the voice (and brain) of Super Human Radio who shot me an email on this issue, yesterday.

A brief glance at the full-text was enough to realize that Carl who likes to pretend he was the idiomatic "blind man" with no scientific degree (I could hardly care less, by the way ;-) who hits upon things like this only perchance was up to something - those who now the show, will be aware that he is smarter than many of the experts he interviews, anyways... but I am getting derailed, here. Where was I? Ah yeah, the study...

COS - What we already know
  • Ameliorates weight gain (-15%) and high blood lipids on HFD in mice in the absence of reduced energy intake (Choi. 2012)
  • Promotes cytokine release in intestinal epithelial cells (Bahar. 2012)
  • Inhibits pancreatic lipase and thus breakdown and subsequent uptake of dietary fat (Kang. 2012)
  • Suppresses TNF-alpha induced collagen breakdown in-vitro (Ryu. 2012)
  • Has neuroprotective effects (Joodi. 2011)
Promising in vivo rodent + in vitro cell line data: Very promising, but not yet field-tested

Hyun Woo Jeong and his colleagues fed 39 female Sprague-Dawley rats either normal or 0.05% chitooligosaccharide (COS produced by Bioland Korea Co. Briefly from chitosan by enzyme digestion, followed by deacetylation of chitin; cf. Hirano. 1989) enriched rodent chow for 6 weeks.

At the end of the study period, 50% of the rodents had performed an exercise test on the treadmill, in the course of which they had to run at a pace of 20m/min until exhaustion, while the rest of the animals were sacrificed before this final workout to assess their pre-exercise plasma profiles including ALT, AST, triglyceride, total cholesterol, lactate, and free fatty acid levels (none of which showed significant changes over the course of the 6-week study period).

Despite the fact that the scientists did not measure the total lean and fat mass of the rodents, the collective data in figure 2 clearly suggests that the -72% reduction in weight gain was not at the expense metabollically active muscle tissue.
Figure 2: Body weight and energy intake (left) and muscle weight vs. body weight (right) data at the end of the 6-week trial (data adapted from Jeong. 2012).
Despite a statistically non-signficant reduction in food intake (-6%) the chitooligosaccharide treated rodents had heavier soleus (slow twitch, type II fiber dominant muscle) muscles and a more favoreable plantaris (fast twitch, type II-X fiber dominant muscle) to total body weight ratio (indicative of a lower body fat percentage), than their non-supplemented peers. Moreover, a cursory glance at figure 3 does also reveal why this is the case.
Figure 3: Electron microscopic image of muscle tissue (top; small arrows and green areas indicate the presence of mytochondria), mitochondrial density in in-vitro control experiment after exposre to different doses of  resveratrol vs. chitooligosaccharide (bottom, left) and time to exhaustion during treadmill test (adapted from Jeong. 2012)
Even as a non-expert it is easy to see that the chitooligosaccharides had profound "anabolic" effects on the mitochondria of the lab animals.
COS activated AMPK and increased the cellular NAD+ / NADH ratio to induce Sirt1 activation. The activation of AMPK and Sirt1 increased the expression and activity of PGC1 and augmented the expression of mitochondrial genes. As a result of activation of AMPK, Sirt1, and PGC1, COS facilitated mitochondrial biogenesis. In rodents, the administration of COS significantly increased intramuscular mitochondrial content, resulting in enhanced exercise endurance and reduced plasma lipid profiles. (Jeong. 2012)
In the Petri-dish, it may be less potent than resveratrol on a per mg base (figure 3, bottom-left), but the real world effects in terms of both, increased mitochondrial biogenesis (see green mitochondria in the electron microscopic image of skeletal muscle; figure 3, top) and subsequent increases in average running time to exhaustion (+96%; figure 3, bottom right) speak for themselves.
Implications: Other than resveratrol, which has an oral biovailability that is hardly high enough to be quantified (Walle. 2004), chitooligosaccharide could actually be suitable for oral supplementation - at least if we assume similar pharmacokinetics in humans as in rats (which is likely, but not necessarily the case).
  • especially sedentary individuals or people who rarely train could benefit from the exercise-mimicking effects 
  • in a previous study by Cho et al. chitooligosaccharide lactate has been found to be superior to chitooligosaccharide HCL (Cho. 2010)
  • the optimal dosage and, more importantly, whether trained and well-conditioned individuals would benefit to a similar extend / at all, would yet require further studies. 
  • the human equivalent dosages for the study at hand would be 600-900mg/day depending on the individuals body weight
Image 1: COS is rather something for the "old" Mr C. than for Adelfo
Aside from the fact that there are (at least to my knowledge) no over-the-counter chitooligosaccharide supplements on the market, so that you would probably have to order a metric ton right from China at, I would not expect too much from it, anyways. Firstly, the chances that it turns out to be another supplemental non-starter like resveratrol are high. And second- and more importantly, the beneficial effects will be less pronounced for well-conditioned individuals and could even be close to zero (and certainly not practically relevant) for people who go to the gym to train and not to pose, to chat or to flirt. People like you and me and Adelfo Cerame, whose new client Mr. C. is soon going to join the ever-growing community of physical culturists, who don't need a "mimetic" for something they love: Exercise!
  • Bahar B, O'Doherty JV, Maher S, McMorrow J, Sweeney T. Chitooligosaccharide elicits acute inflammatory cytokine response through AP-1 pathway in human intestinal epithelial-like (Caco-2) cells. Mol Immunol. 2012 Jul;51(3-4):283-91. Epub 2012 Apr 16.
  • Cho SY, Lee JH, Song MJ, Park PJ, Shin ES, Sohn JH, Seo DB, Lim KM, Kim WG, Lee SJ. Effects of chitooligosaccharide lactate salt on sleep deprivation-induced fatigue in mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2010;33(7):1128-32.
  • Choi EH, Yang HP, Chun HS. Chitooligosaccharide ameliorates diet-induced obesity in mice and affects adipose gene expression involved in adipogenesis and inflammation. Nutr Res. 2012 Mar;32(3):218-28.
  • Hirano S, Tsuchida H, Nagao N. N-acetylation in chitosan and the rate of its enzymic hydrolysis. Biomaterials. 1989;10: 574–576.
  • Jeong HW, Cho SY, Kim S, Shin ES, Kim JM, Song MJ, Park PJ, Sohn JH, Park H, Seo DB, Kim WG, Lee SJ. Chitooligosaccharide Induces Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Increases Exercise Endurance through the Activation of Sirt1 and AMPK in Rats. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40073.
  • Joodi G, Ansari N, Khodagholi F. Chitooligosaccharide-mediated neuroprotection is associated with modulation of Hsps expression and reduction of MAPK phosphorylation. Int J Biol Macromol. 2011 Jun 1;48(5):726-35.
  • Kang NH, Lee WK, Yi BR, Park MA, Lee HR, Park SK, Hwang KA, Park HK, Choi KC. Modulation of lipid metabolism by mixtures of protamine and chitooligosaccharide through pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity in a rat model. Lab Anim Res. 2012 Mar;28(1):31-8. Epub 2012 Mar 21.
  • Ryu B, Himaya SW, Napitupulu RJ, Eom TK, Kim SK. Sulfated chitooligosaccharide II (SCOS II) suppress collagen degradation in TNF-induced chondrosarcoma cells via NF-κB pathway. Carbohydr Res. 2012 Mar 1;350:55-61.
  • Walle T, Hsieh F, DeLegge MH, Oatis JE Jr, Walle UK. High absorption but very low bioavailability of oral resveratrol in humans. Drug Metab Dispos. 2004 Dec;32(12):1377-82. Epub 2004 Aug 27.