According to a new study from San Diego School of Medicine, Muscle Function May Be Enhanced By Cocoa Flavonoid
A specialized clinical trial led by researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine and VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) found that patients with advanced heart failure and type 2 diabetes showed improved mitochondrial structure after three months of treatment with epicatechin-enriched cocoa. Epicatechin is an antioxidant flavonoid found in dark chocolate.
The results of this initial study has led to the implementation of larger, placebo-controlled clinical trial at UC San Diego School of Medicine and VASDHS to determine if patients with heart failure and diabetes show improvement in their exercise capacity when they’re treated with epicatechin-rich cocoa.
The study published by the journal Clinical and Translational Science examined five very ill patients with major damage to skeletal muscle mitochondria. (Mitochondria are the structures responsible for most of the energy produced in cells.)
These “fuel cells” had become dysfunctional as a result of both type 2 diabetes and heart failure, leading to abnormalities in skeletal muscle. In patients with heart failure and diabetes abnormalities in both heart and skeletal muscle result in impaired functional capacity. These patients often complain of shortness of breath, lack of energy and also have difficulty walking.
The trial participants consumed dark chocolate bars and a cocoa beverage with a total epicatechin content of approximately 100 mg per day, for three months. Analytical biopsies of skeletal muscle were conducted before and after treatment.
After the three-month treatment, the researchers examined the changes in mitochondria volume and the abundance of cristae (internal compartments of mitochondria that are necessary for efficient function of the mitochondria.) The cristae are measurable by electron microscopy.
“The cristae had been severely damaged and decreased in quantity in these patients,” reported the study’s investigators from UC San Diego’s Department of Medicine’s Division of Cardiology. “After three months, we saw recovery, with cristae numbers back toward normal levels, and increases in several molecular indicators involved in new mitochondria production.”
The results, which confirmed earlier studies showing improvement in skeletal and heart muscle function in animal models after treatment with epicatechin; These results were promising enough to perform the larger study.
The principal investigator of this trial was Pam R. Taub, MD, assistant professor of medicine at UC San Diego and the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
The study was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health, American College of Cardiology and The Hershey Company.
Alterations in Skeletal Muscle Indicators of Mitochondrial Structure and Bio-genesis in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Failure: Effects of Epicatechin Rich Cocoa.
This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.