A diagnosis of cancer, especially the most prevalent form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma, can be devastating, with a dismal prognosis for this particularly fast moving form of the disease. Many cancer lines develop and progress due to a decline in immune function, allowing single cancer cells to form groups that eventually break apart and metastasize to different organs in the body. T-cells (composed of white blood cell neutrophils) are responsible for destroying aberrant tumor cells before they have the opportunity to develop.
Immune response declines as we age, in large part due to excess sugar consumption, systemic inflammation and poor cellular oxygenation. Researchers publishing in the journal Clinical Cancer Research have found that natural arginine supplementation may reactivate cancer-fighting T-cells in glioblastoma patients, allowing reactivation of the immune system to fight cancer progression.
White blood cell components known as neutrophils are an ancient and nonspecific type of immune cell that neutralizes invading bacteria and viruses. Neutrophils respond to inflammation throughout the body and effectively provide a powerful immune response to knock out the pathogen. In response to overweight and obesity from poor diet and lifestyle choices, a low-level state of inflammation develops and persists for months and years.
Arginine Supports Health Immune System Response to Fight Brain Cancer
Neutrophils become desensitized to the persistent systemic inflammation and become less responsive to disease-causing agents. Cancer cells thrive in an inflamed cellular environment and, if left unchecked, lead to the destruction of healthy tissue and tumor formation. Neutrophils stop the immune response by secreting an enzyme called arginase. After they secrete arginase, commonly they die and are excreted by the body. Researchers have found that patients with glioblastoma do not exhibit the normal neutrophil-mediated immune response and cancer cells grow and spread unabated.
Scientists from the University of Colorado Cancer Center found T-cells are critically dependent on arginine for activation and function. They were able to determine immune system response is not dependent on an increase in arginase, but rather the resulting lack of arginine suppresses the immune system. The researchers concluded “that persistent arginase production from neutrophils suppresses the immune system and keeps cancers from becoming immune targets.”
Arginine is a well researched natural compound largely associated with lowering blood pressure and with cardiovascular health. The result of past research demonstrates that arginine is a precursor to the production of friendly nitric oxide and supports blood vessel relaxation to effectively lower out of range blood pressure readings in at-risk individuals. Cancer prevention can now be added to the list of chronic conditions that benefit from regular arginine supplementation (experts recommend 500 to 1,000 mg per day in healthy adults, based on body weight).