Mesoglycan

Description

Mesoglycan is a mucopolysaccharide complex that is extracted from calf aorta or synthetically created and taken in pill or capsule form as a dietary supplement. Mucopolysaccharides are long molecular chains of sugar. They are used by the body in the building of connective tissues, such as cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. The substance is related to the blood-thinning drug heparin, and the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. Both are used to treat joint pain and arthritis.

General use

Aortic glycosaminoglycans and mucopolysaccharides such as mesoglycan are used to treat diseases of blood vessels, joints, and cartilage such as:

  • atherosclerosis
  • varicose veins
  • phlebitis
  • hemorrhoids
  • arthritis
  • bursitis
  • headaches
  • ulcers
  • angina
  • allergies

There is some evidence that mucopolysaccharides and the related aortic glycosaminoglycans may slow the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by lowering cholesterol levels in the blood. In one study, a group of men with early atherosclerosis was given a 200 mg daily dose of aortic glycosaminoglycans, while another group received no treatment. After 18 months, the layering of the vessel lining in the untreated group was 7.5 times greater than in the treated group.

Heparan sulfate and dermatan sulfate are the two main components of mesoglycan. These substances have a protective effect on the walls of blood vessels.

Mesoglycan is an active ingredient found in the aloe vera plant. There have been studies that have found mesoglycan to be effective in treating inflammation, AIDS, and cancer. One clinical trial conducted in the 1980s showed that AIDS patients who took oral mucopolysaccharides showed a 70% improvement in their symptoms.

Mucopolysaccharides have also been shown to reduce inflammation in diseases such as arthritis, gastric reflux, and ulcerative colitis. There is also evidence suggesting that mesoglycan can slow the progression of arthritic diseases.

Preparations

Dosage ranges from 24-200 mg per day for one to six months, depending on the condition being treated. In a study patients with deep vein thrombosis, a dosage of 72 mg per day was found to be effective. An oral dosage of mesoglycan of 72-96 mg per day for 10-13 weeks has been used to treat hyperlipidemia. A dosage of 24-50 milligrams per day is used to treat patients with arterial disease.

Initially, mesoglycan and other mucopolysaccharides were only available through injections. They are now available in oral form.

Some common names for preparations containing mucopolysaccharides include chondroitin and glucosamine. Glucosamine stimulates the production of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, the building blocks of cartilage. If the body does not produce enough glucosamine on its own, the joints can dry out, crack, or wear away completely. If the joints have no protection from glucosamine, they can become swollen, inflamed, and very painful, a common condition known as osteoarthritis.

Researchers believe that taking glucosamine can help the body stimulate its own production of protective cartilage around joints. Combining glucosamine together with chrondroitin is thought to increase the overall effectiveness, although some practitioners prescribe glucosamine alone.

Precautions

Mesoglycan and other aortic glycosaminoglycans are basically compounds found naturally in the body, so they are generally considered to be safe to take, even in large quantities. There is some ability, however, for aortic glycosaminoglycans to reduce blood clotting. Maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or in those with liver or kidney disease have not been determined.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 permits the marketing of a product labeled as a "dietary supplement" without the approval of any government agency as long as the labeling includes a disclaimer stating that it has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and that the product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease. Purity of dietary supplements cannot be guaranteed. Because of this, consumers should exercise caution when using any dietary supplement and be sure to discuss the use of dietary supplements with their physician or health practitioner. Currently, the only known medical condition that precludes the use of mesoglycan is hemorrhagic disease.

Side effects

In many studies, mesoglycan was found to be tolerated well. Gastrointestinal discomfort and nausea are side effects sometimes reported. With intramuscular injections of mesoglycan, injection site reactions may occur.

Interactions

If you are taking any type of prescription or other medication that decreases blood clotting such as coumadin (warfarin), heparin, trental (pentoxifylline) or aspirin, do not use aortic glycosaminoglycans or mucopolysaccharides without the advice of a physician.

Resources

BOOKS

The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed., New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

PERIODICALS

Lotti T., I. Ghersetich, C. Comacchi, and J. Jorizzo. "Cutaneous Small-Vessel Vasculitis." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (1998): 1-38.

"Glucosamine for Arthritis." The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics. (1997): 91-92.

OTHER

"Mesoglycan." Micromedex Database. (December 1999).

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