OBJECTIVES: Muscle wasting in patients with cancer has been linked to an increased activity of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and higher circulating levels of activin-A (ActA), a negative growth factor for muscle mass. Baicalin is a natural flavonoid that can reduce skeletal muscle atrophy in animal models of cancer cachexia by inhibiting NF-κB. This pilot open-label study assessed the effects of baicalin supplementation (50 mg daily for 3 months) in cancer patients who showed involuntary weight loss >5% over the past 6 months.
METHODS: A total of 20 patients were investigated. Participants were evaluated at baseline and at the end of the 3-month study period for the following endpoints: 1) changes from baseline in serum NF-κB and ActA levels; and 2) change from baseline in lean body mass (LBM).
RESULTS: We observed significant reduction in both NF-κB (p<0.05) and ActA (p<0.05) serum levels from baseline to 3 months. At 3 months, patients also showed a significant mean increase in LBM (+0.8 kg, p<0.05 compared with baseline).
CONCLUSION: Our pilot open-label data suggest that baicalin supplementation is potentially useful for contrasting lean body mass reduction in cancer patients with involuntary weight loss, an effect which is likely mediated by the inhibition of negative growth factors for muscle mass.