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Mesoglycan is a type of substance found in many tissues in the body, including the joints, intestines, and the lining of blood vessels. Chemically, mesoglycan is related to the blood-thinning drug heparin and the supplement chondroitin . Unlike chondroitin, mesoglycan is primarily used to treat diseases of blood vessels. Preliminary evidence suggests that mesoglycan may be helpful for atherosclerosis, varicose veins, phlebitis, and hemorrhoids.
Mesoglycan is not an essential nutrient because the body usually manufactures it from scratch. For supplement purposes, mesoglycan is commercially extracted from the intestines of pigs. Very similar substances can be produced from cartilage, bone, and the lining of large blood vessels, and are often used interchangeably.
The usual dosage of mesoglycan is 100 mg daily.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Mesoglycan?
A 20-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that enrolled 242 people evaluated the effects of mesoglycan (100 mg a day orally, after a short course of injected treatment) for treating intermittent claudication . 1 Significantly more participants in the mesoglycan group responded to treatment (defined as a greater than 50% improvement in walking distance) than in the placebo group.
Atherosclerosis in General
In a double-blind, comparative study, men with atherosclerosis in the arteries of the heart (coronary artery disease) were given either 200 mg daily of mesoglycan or no extra treatment. 2 After 18 months, the layering of the vessel lining was 7.5 times greater in the untreated group than in the mesoglycan group, a significant difference. However, because this was not a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, the results can't be taken as truly reliable. (For information on why double blind studies are essential for proving a treatment effective, see Why Does This Database Depend on Double-blind Studies? )
Additional preliminary evidence that mesoglycan might help atherosclerosis comes from other studies in animals and people. 3 We don' t know for certain how mesoglycan might help atherosclerosis. There is some evidence that it can reduce cholesterol levels and also "thin" the blood. 4
Several studies suggest that mesoglycan may be helpful in the treatment of vein problems, such as varicose veins/venous insufficiency , phlebitis , and hemorrhoids . 5 For example, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 183 individuals with leg ulcers caused by poor vein function were treated with either placebo or mesoglycan (first by injection and then orally) for 24 weeks. 6 The results of this double-blind study suggest that mesoglycan significantly improved the rate at which the leg ulcers healed.
- Nenci GG, Gresele P, Ferrari G, Santoro L, Gianese F, Mesoglycan Intermittent Claudication Group. Treatment of intermittent claudication with mesoglycan--a placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Thromb Haemost. 86(5):1181-7.
- Laurora G, Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, et al. Control of the progress of arteriosclerosis in high risk subjects treated with mesoglycan. Measuring the intima media [translated from Italian]. Minerva Cardioangiol. 1998;46:41–47.
- Tanganelli P, Bianciardi G, Carducci A, et al. Updating on in-vivo and in-vitro effects of heparin and other glycosaminoglycans (mesoglycan) on arterial endothelium: a morphometrical study. Int J Tissue React. 1992;14:149–153.
- Saba P, Galeone F, Giuntoli F, et al. Hypolipidemic effect of mesoglycan in hyperlipidemic patients. Curr Ther Res. 1986;40:761–768.
- Agrati AM, De Bartolo G, Palmieri G. Heparan sulfate: Efficacy and safety in patients with chronic venous insufficiency [in Italian; English abstract]. Minerva Cardioangiol. 1991;39:395–400.
- Arosio E, Ferrari G, Santoro L, Gianese F, Coccheri S, Mesoglycan Venous Insufficiency Group. A placebo-controlled, double-blind study of mesoglycan in the treatment of chronic venous ulcers. Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 22(4):365-72.