Cisplatin is commonly prescribed to mesothelioma patients, but the platinum-based chemotherapy drug is associated with several side effects. One of them is hepatotoxicity — chemically induced liver damage.
This side effect most often affects patients who receive aggressive, high-dose or repeated low-dose chemotherapy prescriptions. Patients with malignant mesothelioma typically receive 21-day cycles of cisplatin and Alimta for several months, depending on the stage of their disease. Cisplatin is thought to affect the liver by reacting with vital compounds such as proteins or DNA in the organ.
A recent study published in Food and Function revealed that spirulina, an all-natural dietary supplement, may be able to reverse the liver damage caused by cisplatin. Spirulina, a protein and antioxidant-rich algae typically marketed in freeze-dried pill form, also may benefit cancer patients whose immune systems are compromised by intensive chemotherapy.
Liver degeneration and cell death were discovered as common occurrences in cisplatin-treated lab mice. Researchers gave mice with lost liver function one of four treatments: spirulina, vitamin C, a combination of the two supplements or nothing.
Results showed that mice that received at least one of the supplements experienced restored liver function, but the restorative benefits were greatest in mice who received both spirulina and vitamin C.
Tests revealed that when combined with vitamin C, spirulina also prevented elevated levels of liver enzymes, a signal of cell death. The levels of two liver damage enzymes, ALT and AST, were reduced in mice that had been given spirulina and vitamin C. The enzyme levels in these mice dropped to a normal pre-Cisplatin range. These enzymes help prevent radically-induced oxidative stress, which is thought to be responsible for the metastatic spread of mesothelioma.
Researchers concluded that spirulina and vitamin C may help reduce cancer patients’ risk of liver damage or renal failure after receiving Cisplatin. They suggested that a supplementation regimen of spirulina and vitamin C be adopted before and during chemotherapy cycles.
Because each body responds differently to supplemental therapies, patients should consult with their oncologist before adding a new supplement to their diet.