Saffron and Multiple Sclerosis

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-9 facilitates the migration of T-cells to central nervous system (CNS), while tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1(TIMP-1) inhibits the function of MMP-9.

This study aimed to determine the appropriate treatment option for multiple sclerosis (MS).

Forty-three relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients were randomly divided into two groups of 22 (group A, placebo) and 21 (group B, Saffron pill) individuals. Serum samples were collected from patients' blood before using the Saffron pills/placebo pills and then after 12 months. The serum level of MMP-9 and its inhibitor, as well as TIMP-1, were measured by ELISA kits.

MMP-9 serum levels noticeably decreased in patients with MS following 12 months of treatment with Saffron pills (p=0.006) while the changes were not significant before and after 12 months of treatment with placebo pills. Although the levels of TIMP-1 increased significantly after one year treating with Saffron pills (p=0.0002), a considerable difference was not observed before and after taking the placebo pills.

The study finding revealed that 12-months treatment with Saffron could have a significant role in reducing the serum level of MMP-9 and increasing the serum level of TIMP-1 in RRMS patients. Therefore, modulating the serum levels of MMP-9 as an important regulator of T cell trafficking to the CNS might be a promising strategy in the treatment of MS patients.