August 24, 2023 — Oils extracted from larvae of the Black Soldier Fly (BSFL) hold significant promise for new treatment of inflammatory-related conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, according to a study by Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers.

Ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, affects millions of people worldwide. While no cure exists, dietary modification using oil from BSFL, a commercially available super-protein animal feed, holds potential.

According to a study published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences led by Prof. Betty Schwartzof the Hebrew University Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, the research team compared BSFL oil’s anti-inflammatory effects with medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) like C12:0.

The findings revealed that BSFL oil countered inflammation triggered by different immune signals. The researchers also pinpointed how BSFL oil triggers cellular changes that could curb inflammation, setting it apart from other treatments. Moreover, the identification of anti-inflammatory compounds in BSFL oil lays the groundwork for prospective investigations into precision anti-inflammatory approaches.

Black Solider Fly Larvae
Credit: Entoprotech Ltd

The study used an innovative methodology, comparing the anti-inflammatory through the activation of cell lines (THP-1 and J774A.1) by TLR4 and TLR2. The findings demonstrate that, while both BSFL oil and C12:0 suppress proinflammatory cytokines in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages, only BSFL oil exhibits anti-inflammatory properties in Pam3CSK4-stimulated macrophages.

In conclusion, the researchers stated that “Our study provides a convincing indication of the anti-inflammatory activity of Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) oil in vitro and its potential to ameliorate DSS-induced colitis in vivo. We hope that advancing our understanding of the effect of BSFL oil on the reprogramming of intracellular metabolism and subsequent macrophage polarization will help determine how it could be targeted to normalize metabolic homeostasis in inflammatory disease conditions.”

The research team included Hadas Richter, Ofer Gover, and Prof. Betty Schwartz of the Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science, and Nutrition, The School of Nutritional Sciences, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The research was funded in part by Entoprotech Ltd. (Caesarea, Israel), funding number: 3144000687.