Research

Studying the health enhancing properties of spirulina

October 4, 2013
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

A staple of ancient cultures, spirulina continues to be a popular health supplement around the world.

A staple of ancient cultures, spirulina continues to be a popular health supplement around the world.

Emma Eley writes in Chemistry World that scientists investigating the health enhancing properties of spirulina have identified that its atheroprotective activity may be due to it having a protein with a similar structure to bilirubin.

Spirulina, the blue-green algae taken for hundreds of years as a food supplement, has gained cult superfood status because it is packed full of proteins, polysaccharides and vitamins. It has also sparked a craze of urban gardening – barrels of the edible algae are even being grown on rooftops in Bangkok, Thailand.

Although its atheroprotective effects are well established, scientists have been unsure about the mechanism behind its activity. Now a team – led by Petr Nachtigal at Charles University in Prague – say they are closer to the answer.

Spirulina’s atheroprotective activity was already thought to be due to an algal protein complex called phycocyanobilin (PCB). PCB is structurally related to the human bile pigment bilirubin, which is clinically proven to protect against oxidative-stress related diseases such as atherosclerosis. In humans, bilirubin is made when the enzyme haem oxygenase-1 (HMOX1) catalyses the breakdown of haem. Nachtigal’s team has now shown that PCB can boost HMOX1 mRNA expression and activity in mice.

Although the mechanism by which PCB upregulates the enzyme is still not known, Nachtigal says that HMOX1 expression is a potential atheroprotective pathway. He goes on to add that ‘the underlying mechanism might be Spirulina-induced modulation of the intracellular Nrf2/Keap1 transcriptional system of HMOX1,’ and that they are currently investigating this.

“While this work clearly demonstrates that spirulina has a positive effect on HMOX1 expression and HMOX enzyme activity in endothelial cells, it is not conclusive that PCB is solely responsible for these effects,” says Maria Hayes, an expert in marine bioactives from Teagasc Food Research Centre, Dublin. “It would be interesting to see if other PCB containing cyanobacteria species have similar effects and it would be most interesting to see if these extracts inhibit other enzymes such as platelet activating factor acetylhydrolases which are thought to play a role in inflammation and atherosclerosis.”

Further work from the group will focus on combining spirulina with the most commonly used atherosclerosis drugs, statins.

Read More

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2013 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Chase Ezell writes in Earth911.com about the irony of Algenol’s biggest friction source on the way to marketing their carbon reducing algal-based ethanol being — the EPA ...
Researchers at the Paul Scherer Institute (PSI) in Wädenswil, Switzerland, have succeeded in producing energy-rich gas from microalgae, and in doing so have demonstrated ...
SCHOTT AG, of Mitterteich, Germany, and Algatechnologies Ltd. (Algatech), based at Israel’s Kibbutz Ketura, have signed an R&D agreement to strengthen their partnersh...
Analia Murias 
reports for fis.com that Chilean exports of products made from macroalgae generated a total of $195 million US in the first seven months of 2014, according...
James “Jamie” Levine took over the reigns at Sapphire Energy in July of this year as former President and CEO Cynthia “CJ” Warner stepped down, retaining her role as chai...
With their new CO₂ processing-platform called AstaCos, AlgaeBiotech can produce waxy particles of only 50-100 µm in size with a loading of 25% astaxanthin oleoresin. The ...
A team of Michigan State University algae researchers have discovered a cellular "snooze button" that has the potential to improve biofuel production and offer ...
Algix, parent company of Solaplast, will be inaugurating their algae-to-plastic facility in Meridian, Mississippi, on November 14, 2014. Solaplast's facility will be focu...
Renewable fuels company Muradel has launched Australia’s first integrated demonstration plant to sustainably convert algae into green crude, as a first step towards a com...
Solazyme, Inc. and Versalis, the chemical subsidiary of Eni S.p.A., one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, today announced a partnership to expand the commerci...
Iran-based Qeshm Microalgae Biorefinery Co. (QMAB) has launched a biofuel being marketed as BAYA®, produced from a species of Nannochloropsis (strain 6016) isolated from ...
William Tucker writes in fullfreedom.org about the lure the oceans have for advocates of biofuel, particularly in Scandinavia. “Two-thirds of the globe is covered with wa...
Most Americans get plenty of protein, primarily from animal products including meat, eggs and milk. But for many, ensuring a healthy protein intake can be challenging. In...
Western Morning News reports that Westcountry scientists in the U.K. are using algae to develop an innovative new method of cleaning up contaminated mine water while harv...
Phys.org reports that, in collaboration with the Berlin, Germany LED manufacturer FutureLED, scientists at the Technische Universität München have developed a unique comb...
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae because of their color, have endured for more than 2.5 billion years, providing ample time to adapt to changes in the Earth'...
In an age where customer input is as easy as a click, OriginOil has tapped directly into its intended market to R&D their next generation algae harvester -- with a de...
Designboom.com is showcasing the “Spirulina Fountain” designed by bureau A. The installation constitutes a hybrid, fusing the production basins of the intense blue-green ...