The new theory is that N-Acetylglucosamine might promote myelin repair. Any truth to this? Any harm in taking it?
Here is My Question:
The new theory that I just read is that N-Acetylglucosamine, which is sold over-the-counter, might promote myelin repair. Any truth to this? Any harm in taking it?
Recent pre-clincal research using mice demonstrated an effect of N-Acetylglucosamine (GlcNAcon) on remyelination and motor function. This is the first step in the investigative process and generates the hypotheses: does N-Acetylglucosamine improve remyelination in MS patients? Does N-Acetylglucosamine improve neurologic function by improving disability scores? At present, there are no studies that answer these questions (in humans with confirmed MS). There is scant information about acute toxicity potential in humans and more in mice. These published reports suggest it may be safe at the doses previously studied over the course of a few months; however, further investigation in humans is needed to confirm this at proposed doses and for long-term exposure that would be expected for possible treatment in MS.
At present, I cannot recommend picking this up over the counter and taking this for remyelination due to the lack of data. For instance, what dose would be sufficient? For how long would the GlcNAcon need to be taken and at what intervals? Is it safe to do so once we have a better idea of the answers to the first two questions? These will need to be fleshed out through the scientific method. For those interested in eventually being involved in research with GlcNAcon in the future, you can monitor clinicaltrials.gov (and search for MS and N-Acetylgulcosamine) for opportunities in your area. At present, there are no registered studies, but that is likely to change in the future when investigators secure funding to organize clinical testing and answer these important questions.
A. Scott Neilsen MD MMSc
Neurologist and MS Specialist at Kaiser Permanente
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