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Neurol Res. 2009 Jun;31(5):441-52. doi: 10.1179/174313209X403878. Epub 2009 Mar 23.

Dietary supplement with fermented soybeans, natto, improved the neurobehavioral deficits after sciatic nerve injury in rats.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.


Clearance of fibrin and associated inflammatory cytokines by tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) is related to improved regeneration in neurological disorder. The biological activity of fermented soybean (natto) is very similar to that of t-PA. We investigated the effect of the dietary supplement of natto on peripheral nerve regeneration. The peripheral nerve injury was produced by crushing the left sciatic nerve with a vessel clamp in Sprague-Dawley rats. The injured animals were fed orally either with saline or natto (16 mg/day) for seven consecutive days after injury. Increased functional outcome such as sciatic nerve functional index, angle of ankle, compound muscle action potential and conduction latency were observed in natto-treated group. Histological examination demonstrated that natto treatment improved injury-induced vacuole formation, S-100 and vessel immunoreactivities and axon loss. Oral intake of natto prolonged prothrombin time and reduced fibrinogen but did not change activated partial thromboplastin time and bleeding time. Furthermore, natto decreased injury-induced fibrin deposition, indicating a tolerant fibrinolytic activity. The treatment of natto significantly improved injury-induced disruption of blood-nerve barrier and loss of matrix component such as laminin and fibronectin. Sciatic nerve crush injury induced elevation of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) production and caused apoptosis. The increased production of TNF-alpha and apoptosis were attenuated by natto treatment. These findings indicate that oral intake of natto has the potential to augment regeneration in peripheral nerve injury, possibly mediated by the clearance of fibrin and decreased production of TNF-alpha.

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