Research finds ginger counters certain autoimmune diseases in mice


The main bioactive compound of ginger root, 6-gingerol, is therapeutic in countering the mechanism that fuels certain autoimmune diseases in mice, according to a new study published in the journal JCI Insight.

For the study, done in mouse models, researchers from the Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan looked at neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), which come from white blood cells called neutrophils. Specifically, they looked at whether the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger extend to neutrophils, and if it stops neutrophils from making NETs that contribute to disease progression.

Researchers looked at lupus, a disease which attacks the body's own immune system, and its often-associated condition antiphospholipid syndrome, which causes blood clots, since both cause widespread inflammation and damage organs overtime.

In mice with either antiphospholipid syndrome or lupus, 6-gingerol prevented neutrophil extracellular trap release, which is triggered by the autoantibodies that these diseases produce, the researchers said. The researchers found that that after giving 6-gingerol, the mice had lower levels of NETs. Their tendency to make clots was also drastically reduced and 6-gingerol appeared to inhibit neutrophil enzymes called phosphodiesterases, which in turn reduced neutrophil activation, the study said.

Additionally, the researchers found that the mice, regardless of whether they had antiphospholipid syndrome or lupus, had reduced autoantibodies suggesting the inflammatory cycle, autoantibodies stimulating NETs which stimulate more autoantibodies, was broken.

Although the study was done in mouse models, the researchers said they think the preclinical data, showing that 6-gingerol has anti-neutrophil properties that may protect against autoimmune disease progression, encourages clinical trial development. The bioactive compound can't be the primary therapy for someone with active antiphospholipid syndrome or lupus, but the team is interested to see if the natural supplement may help those at high risk for disease development.