Alkoxyglycerols are ether-linked glycerols derived from shark liver oil. They include such substances as batyl alcohol, chimyl alcohol and selachyl alcohol. They are also known as alkylglycerols, ether lipids and dietary ether lipids. The terms alkoxyglycerols and shark liver oil are frequently used interchangeably. Alkoxyglycerols are found naturally in shark liver oil in the form of fatty acid esters. These fatty acid esters are called 1-O-alkyl-2,3-diacyl-sn-glycerols and are represented by the following chemical structure:
Actions & Pharmacology
Alkoxyglycerols have putative antiproliferative and immunomodulatory activities.
Mechanism of Action
The mechanism of the putative antiproliferative and immunomodulatory actions of alkoxyglycerols is not known. Speculative mechanisms include protein kinase C inhibition, macrophage activation and natural killer cell activation.
Ether glycerols, when absorbed, may be incorporated into plasmalogens and alkylacyl glycerophospholipids. Little is available on the specific pharmacokinetics of the shark oil alkoxyglycerols in humans.
Indications & Usage
Support for claims that the alkoxyglycerols are indicated for the prevention and treatment of any cancer or for the treatment of wounds and inflammatory conditions in humans is limited and unsystematic. There is little support for claims that they are immune-enhancing in humans.
There are no typical doses. Those who use shark liver oil products are cautioned that some preparations may contain high amounts of vitamins A and D.
LiteratureBrohult A, Brohult J, Brohult S, Joelsson I. Reduced mortality in cancer patients after administration of alkoxyglycerols. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1986; 65:779-785.Das AK, Holmes RD, Wilson GN, Hajra AK. Dietary ether lipid incorporation into tissue plasmologens of humans and rodents. Lipids. 1992; 27:401-405.Hallgren B, Niklasson A, Stallberg G, Thorin H. On the occurrence of 1-O-(2-methoxyalkyl)glycerols and 1-O-phytanylglycerol in marine animals. Acta Chem Scand B. 1974; 28:1035-1040.Hasle H, Rose C. [Shark liver oil (alkoxyglycerol) and cancer treatment]. [Article in Danish]. Ugesk Laeger. 1991; 153:343-346.Oh SY, Jadhav LS. Effects of dietary alkoxyglycerols in lactating rats on immune responses in pups. Pediatr Res. 1994; 36:300-305.
Research & Summary
This shark-liver oil derivative has been touted as an effective anti-cancer treatment. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to support this claim, at least for humans. There is scant evidence it inhibits tumor growth or reduces cancer mortality in humans. It should in no way be relied upon in the treatment of any form of cancer. Similarly, there is little evidence to support claims that this substance is useful for treating wounds and inflammatory conditions. Neither has it been demonstrated in appropriate human clinical studies that it has immune-enhancing effects. There are some in vitro and animal studies reporting antiproliferative and immunomodulatory effects for these substances, and perhaps alkoxyglycerols may eventually have a role to play in adjuvant management of certain types of cancer. However, this would need to be established by well-designed, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, which have not yet been done.
Contraindications, Precautions & Adverse Reactions
Known hypersensitivity to an alkoxyglycerol-containing product.
Those with cancer who are interested in alkoxyglycerols should discuss their use with their physicians. Under no circumstance should they be relied upon as principle elements in the management of their disease. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid alkoxyglycerol supplements.
Mild gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, have been reported.