Chitin-glucan: a revolution from inside.
Research conducted by the Belgium-based company, KitoZyme, in close collaboration with the Universities of Liege (Belgium), Louvain (Belgium) and Montpellier (France), has led to the isolation of chitin-glucan, a new molecule of vegetal origin and the discovery of associated health and beauty benefits. Launched as an active ingredient in the cosmetic field (KiOsmetine-CG for skin rejuvenation and hydration) in 2007, chitin-glucan has recently been formulated, according to new specifications, to provide novel functionalities for dietary supplements.
At the border between cosmetics and food lies cosmeceuticals or "oral beauty," a trendy niche sector of the dietary supplement market that enables people to take care of their body from within. The skin, which is the only visible part of our body, reflects our general well-being and health. The cosmeceutical market has been growing and expanding for 20 years and, according to Euromonitor, the total European and US market value stood at $8.2 billion in 2007. However, this sector is currently facing the challenge of credibility and consumer skepticism; in this context, scientific background, the demonstration of efficacy and ethics are major assets for producers.
A Brand New Molecule
Chitin-glucan (KiOnutrime-CG) is an innovative molecule that can rebalance the damage done to the human organism by our modern lifestyles. Potent and scientifically supported, it helps to make you feel good, inside and out, by reducing oxidative stress and improving digestive comfort. Chitin-glucan comprises two polysaccharide chains linked covalently in a 3D structure: chitin and beta(1,3)-glucan (Figure 1). It is extracted from a renewable and stable vegetal source (the cell walls of microscopic non-GMO fungi) without any synthetic manipulation.
Managing Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress refers to the cell component damage caused by free radicals. It is regarded as one of the most important spontaneous phenomena responsible for ageing of the whole organism; the ageing process is the accumulation of oxidative damage to cells and tissues, associated with a progressive increase in the chance of morbidity and mortality. It is defined as a distuhrbance in the balance between the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and antioxidant defences; or it may be defined as a metabolic state wherein the cellular oxidative reactions are out of control. Metabolic reactions generate several types of reactive oxygen species. This results in the production of anion superoxides (free radicals) that are extremely reactive. Free radicals degrade or transform molecules such as proteins, DNA and lipids, causing cellular and tissue damage.
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The production of these very hostile molecules is increased by different pathologies or external factors--such as excessive pollution, sun, stress, smoking or an unbalanced diet--leading to the generation of reactive oxygen species throughout the body and overpowering the organism's natural defence system. This general oxidative stress causes several problems, such as skin diseases, cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders. In addition, oxidative stress is also known to be a cause of organ, tissue and muscle ageing. Our skin, being the largest human organ, is the part of our body that is most exposed, and susceptible, to oxidative damage.
Our body is able to fight oxidative stress by drawing on our enzymatic defence system and deploying superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), for instance, to attack the free radicals. SOD is a hepatic enzyme that is able to reduce superoxide ([O.sup.-.sub.2]) species in the liver, whereas GPx is a hepatic enzyme that reduces oxidized lipids in the liver. The body can also use natural antioxidants stored in the body, such as vitamins. Supplements with natural antioxidants such as polyphenols are common in nutraceutical offerings, and chitin-glucan is an ingredient that acts synergistically with these well-known actives.
The performance of chitin-glucan in the management of oxidative stress has been demonstrated in an in vivo study on hamsters conducted by Professor Jean-Max Rouanet of the University of Montpellier. This 12-week study was conducted on 18 hamsters that were fed an atherogenic diet that was enriched with unsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol, and was poor in vitamins C and E and selenium. Six hamsters were supplemented with a once-daily chitin-glucan dose (equivalent to 1.5 g/ day for a 70 kg human); 6 hamsters were supplemented with a chitin-glucan dose that was equivalent to 3 g/day; and the last 6 hamsters were fed with a chitin-glucan-free atherogenic diet. The results showed that chitin-glucan inhibits the oxidation effect by stimulating key enzymatic antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase (+120%) and glutathione peroxidase (+43%). This resulted in a significant decrease in the overall production of superoxide ions (-25%; Figure 2). The balance between antioxidant and oxidant activity is restored and the body is protected from oxidative damage.
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Protecting the Cardiovascular System
Chitin-glucan prevents the occurrence of atherosclerosis by managing oxidative stress and protecting the cardiovascular system from the effects of a modern lifestyle and an unbalanced diet. A preclinical human study, run by Professor Nicolas Paquot (Hospital Center of the University of Liege, Department of Diabetology, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases), showed a decrease in blood triglyceride levels and a reduced concentration of oxidized-LDL (-26%) at a dose of 1.5 g taken three times per day (Figure 3). The placebo-controlled study was done for 4 weeks on 30 slightly overweight volunteers (BMI: 24.1 [+ or -] 2.4) who presented with moderate hypercholesterolemia (1.9 g/mL [+ or -] 4), without any change in their dietary habits.
A combination of pathways stimulates greater lipid catabolism, which, in turn, results in lower volumes of circulating lipids and a decreased triglyceride concentration (20% less than the control group). Thus, the level of oxidized-LDL is reduced, the inflammatory reaction in the arteries and the formation of fatty plaques is limited. Chitin-glucan is proven to increase the resistance of LDL to oxidation.
Feel Good, Look Good!
The bacteria that live in the intestine are called the intestinal flora. Unwanted bacteria are either pathogenic or play a role in transforming some food components into noxious substances. Good bacteria (lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, for example) play a strategic role in maintaining a healthy and beautiful body by stimulating immunity and promoting well-being. An unbalanced diet, stress, age, fatigue and diseases can disturb the microfloral equilibrium by affecting the ratio between good and bad bacteria, leading to symptoms such as pain and problems with regularity. Chitin-glucan is a fibre that stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Professor Nathalie Delzenne (PMNT, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium) led a 4-week study on 10 rats that were fed with a standard diet (5 rats were supplemented with fructose and chitin-glucan at a daily dose of 10% of the diet; 5 rats were supplemented with fructose as a control group). The study revealed that chitin-glucan is a prebiotic that stimulates the production of good bacteria, serving as a nutrient for micro-organisms producing lactic acid in the colon. A higher number of good bacteria leads to improved digestion and transit, and well-being (Figure 4). The documented cross-functional activity of this original active ingredient makes it unique. It provides a solution for those who take care of their health and well-being, and want to prevent the effects of ageing--believing that feeling good means looking good.
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KitoZyme's innovative range of ingredients derives from 8 years of close collaboration with experts in nutrition, cosmetics and dermatology. The company was created in 2000 to valorize the University of Liege's research into a new vegetal source of the specialty ingredients, chitin and chitosan. KitoZyme has designed its own processes and industrial facility to meet the demand for functional biopolymers in the four key markets of nutraceutics, medical/pharma, cosmetics and beverages. KiOnutrime-CGTM and KiOsmetine-CGTM are registered trademarks of KitoZyme (www.kitozyme.com).