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Bilberry ingestion improves disease activity in mild to moderate ulcerative colitis - an open pilot study.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2013
Author Biedermann Luc, Mwinyi Jessica, Scharl Michael, Frei Pascal, Zeitz Jonas, Kullak-Ublick Gerd A, Vavricka Stephan R, Fried Michael, Weber Achim, Humpf Hans-Ulrich, Peschke Simone, Jetter Alexander, Krammer Gerhard, Rogler Gerhard,
Project The role of SLC transporters in autophagy and inflammatory bowel disease
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Crohn's & colitis
Volume (Issue) 7(4)
Page(s) 271 - 9
Title of proceedings Journal of Crohn's & colitis
DOI 10.1016/j.crohns.2012.07.010


BACKGROUND AND AIMS A significant fraction of patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) is not sufficiently controlled with conventional therapy or suffers from therapy related side effects. Anthocyanins, highly abundant in bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus), were shown to have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects. We aimed to explore the therapeutic potential of bilberries in active UC. METHODS In an open pilot trial with a total follow-up of 9 weeks the effect of a daily standardized anthocyanin-rich bilberry preparation was tested in 13 patients with mild to moderate UC. Clinical, biochemical, endoscopic and histologic parameters were assessed. RESULTS At the end of the 6 week treatment interval 63.4% of patients achieved remission, the primary endpoint, while 90.9% of patients showed a response. In all patients a decrease in total Mayo score was detected (mean: 6.5 and 3.6 at screening and week 7, respectively; p<0.001). Fecal calprotectin levels significantly decreased during the treatment phase (baseline: mean 778 μg/g, range 192-1790 μg/g; end of treatment: mean 305 μg/g, range <30-1586 μg/g; p=0.049), including 4 patients achieving undetectable levels at end of treatment. A decrease in endoscopic Mayo score and histologic Riley index confirmed the beneficial effect. However, an increase of calprotectin levels and disease activity was observed after cessation of bilberry intake. No serious adverse events were observed. CONCLUSIONS This is the first report on the promising therapeutic potential of a standardized anthocyanin-rich bilberry preparation in UC in humans. These results clearly indicate a therapeutic potential of bilberries in UC. Further studies on mechanisms and randomized clinical trials are warranted.