Perna canaliculus or green-lipped mussel (GLM) is found only in New Zealand waters. It has been cultivated commercially since the early 1970s (WOOD & al., 2007)), but has been valued as a delicious and nutritious foodstuff by native New Zealanders since the dawn of history.
GLM contains omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA and eicosatetraenoic acid), chondroitin sulphate, amino acids (glutamine), minerals (zinc, copper, manganese) and vitamins E and C (MURPHY & al., 2003 ; RIALLAND & al., 2013). It also contains pernin, a bioactive protein that occurs in high concentrations in the cell-free haemolymph of Perna canaliculus and is responsible for some of its health benefits (SCOTTI & al., 2001).
GLM has anti-inflammatory properties and boosts the efficacy of oral steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (WHITEHOUSE et al., 2003).
It inhibits biosynthesis of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and reduces TNF-α and IL-12p40 production by human monocytes stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in vitro. It reduces the incidence, onset and severity of arthritis in vivo in rats and mice (LAWSON & al., 2007). When administered by intraperitoneal injection, it reduces carrageenan-induced inflammatory oedema of the rat hind footpad (MILLER & OMROD, 1980).
GLM is effective in improving functional index and reducing pain in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) (LAU & al., 2004 ; GIBSON & GIBSON, 1998 ; AUDEVAL & BOUCHACOURT, 1986 ; BRIEN & al., 2008 ; COULSON et al., 2013).
In rats fed a high-fat/high-sugar diet and developing metabolic-associated OA, adding Perna canaliculus to their feed led to a significant reduction in serum C-telopeptide of type II collagen (CTX-II), a protein fragment that is found at the terminals of the collagen chain and is a biomarker of cartilage degradation. GLM therefore has a protective effect in metabolic-associated OA in rats (SIRIARCHAVATANA & al., 2019).
In dogs, supplementation with GLM extracts for eight weeks reduces pain and improves joint mobility, as demonstrated by increased peak vertical force (PVF) values measured on a biomechanical force platform (HIELM-BJÖRKMAN & al., 2007 ; RIALLAND & al., 2013).
GLM has protective effects on the digestive system in in vivo models of intestinal inflammation (COULSON & al., 2015). In cases of colitis induced by dextran sulphate sodium, the lipid extract of GLM significantly reduces body weight loss, disease severity and histological damage (TENIKOFF & al., 2005).
Perna canaliculus also significantly improves gastrointestinal symptoms (by 49%) in OA patients. It is useful in combating gastrointestinal dysfunction linked to analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication use in OA patients (COULSON & al., 2012 ; COULSON & al., 2013).
In patients with knee OA, GLM improves the gut microbiota profile, tending to increase bacteria of the genera Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and decrease bacteria of the genera Enterococcus and Clostridium (COULSON & al., 2013).
Some authors have hypothesised that GLM triggers the growth of certain intestinal bacterial species, which may contribute to the microbiome’s ability to produce short-chain fatty acids, thus playing an important role in maintaining intestinal homeostasis (SALTZMANN & al., 2017).
To help protect your joints, eat New Zealand green-lipped mussels!