Palmitoylethanolamide Reduces Proinflammatory Markers in Unvaccinated Adults Recently Diagnosed with COVID-19: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Samantha N. Fessler, Li Liu, Yung Chang, Theresa Yip, Carol S. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Inflammation is at the core of many chronic conditions and exacerbates infectious conditions, including the severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to examine the effects of a novel food supplement, palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), specifically Levagen+, as compared with a placebo on proinflammatory biomarkers in adults recently diagnosed with COVID-19 who were unvaccinated and nonhospitalized. METHODS: This study was a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial conducted October 2020-March 2021 ( NCT04912921). Participants aged 19-53 y were unvaccinated and recently infected with COVID-19 as indicated by a positive test result per RT-PCR or antigen test, and they reported to the test site following diagnosis as allowed by the CDC's return-to-work policy. Participants were stratified by age, sex, and BMI and randomly assigned by coin toss to receive 600 mg Levagen+ twice daily (LEV) or placebo tablets twice daily (CON) for 4 wk. At baseline and week 4, participants completed health histories, 24-h dietary recalls, anthropometrics, and nonfasting blood sampling. The primary outcomes were the 4-wk change between groups for IL-6, C-reactive protein, ferritin, intercellular adhesion molecule 1, soluble P-selectin (sP-selectin), and neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio. Multiple linear regression models were utilized to assess treatment effects on outcomes, adjusting for covariates. RESULTS: A total of 60 participants completed the study (LEV: n = 30; CON: n = 30). After 4 wk of supplementation, sP-selectin (β = -11.5; 95% CI: -19.8, -3.15; P = 0.0078), IL-1β (β = -22.9; 95% CI: -42.4, -3.40; P = 0.0222), and IL-2 (β = -1.73; 95% CI: -3.45, -0.065; P = 0.0492) concentrations were significantly reduced in the LEV group compared with the CON group. CONCLUSIONS: Inflammatory mechanisms are crucial to optimal resolution of infectious conditions, yet unchecked secretion of inflammatory mediators can promote the dysregulated immune response implicated in COVID-19 complications. Overall, PEA supplementation produced anti-inflammatory effects in individuals recently diagnosed with COVID-19 who were nonhospitalized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2218-2226
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 6 2022


  • COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2
  • adhesion molecules
  • cytokines
  • dietary supplements
  • inflammation
  • palmitoylethanolamide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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