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Supplementation with N-acetyl-D-glucosamine activates NK cells against influenza viruses
N-acetyl-D-glucosamine supplementation may not only be effective against painful joints or dry skin, but may also protect against flu, according to a Chinese animal study. N-acetyl-D-glucosamine activates NK cells.
Animal study 1
In their first experiment, they replaced the intestinal flora of mice with the intestinal flora of mice that had previously been exposed to the bird flu virus H7N9. Some of the mice received a transplant of intestinal flora from mice that had been able to keep the virus under control, while others received intestinal flora from mice that had had a hard time with the virus. A control group received intestinal flora from mice that had not been in contact with H7N9.
The researchers then infected the laboratory animals with a sickening dose of H7N9 viruses and observed how many mice died. As you can see below, the chances of survival of the mice that had received intestinal flora from the virus-resistant animals were significantly greater than those of the other test animals.
Animal study 2
N-acetyl-D-glucosamine is present in supplements that keep the skin younger and flexible and protect joints. It is a building block of hyaluronic acid.
Animal study 3
That's more than human subjects receive in supplement trials, in which researchers study the effect of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine on dry skin or painful joints. They usually receive 500-1000 milligrams per day. [Exp Ther Med. 2017 Apr;13(4):1614-21.] However, in short-term trials in which researchers want to slow down an autoimmune disorders such as Crohn's Disease, test subjects receive doses of up to 6 grams of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine per day. [Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Dec;14(12):1567-79.]
Supplementation with N-acetyl-D-glucosamine increased the chances of survival of the mice when they were exposed to the bird flu virus, as shown in the figure below. Click on it for a larger version.
NK cells are part of the innate immune system. These immune cells become active without being controlled by information acquired by the immune system after previous infections. The NK cells may have eliminated enough viruses to make it easier for other parts of the immune system to fight the pathogens.