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Current and prospective insights on food and pharmaceutical applications of spirulina

  • Reprogene, USA

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The blue green algae spirulina has been used by mankind as food and drug since ages. However, the last few decades have witnessed the unprecedented momentum in research on nutritional and medicinal potency of this unicellular alga. It has emerged as an undisputed medical food with the discovery and validation of a litany of health benefits ranging from antioxidant, anti-inflammation, hypolipemic, antithrombotic, anti-diabetic, anticancer, immunestimulatory, antimicrobial, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, antianaemic, neuroprotective, tissue engineering to aquaculture and livestock feed. Many hitherto unknown pharmacological properties are coming forth and myriad research projects are revolving around this miraculous cyanobacterium. Safety regulations recommend its inclusion in nutritional regimen for proofing body against ailments and augmenting vitality. Advances in effective cultivation, drying, extraction and purification techniques have been summarized. This review outlines the recent progresses and therapeutic possibilities of this spirulina.
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Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
The blue green algae spirulina has been
used by mankind as food and drug since ages.
However, the last few decades have witnessed
the unprecedented momentum in research on
nutritional and medicinal potency of this
unicellular alga. It has emerged as an undisputed
medical food with the discovery and validation of
a litany of health benefits ranging from
antioxidant, anti-inflammation, hypolipemic,
antithrombotic, anti-diabetic, anticancer,
immunestimulatory, antimicrobial, cardio-
protective, hepatoprotective, antianaemic,
neuroprotective, tissue engineering to
aquaculture and livestock feed. Many hitherto
unknown pharmacological properties are coming
forth and myriad research projects are revolving
around this miraculous cyanobacterium. Safety
regulations recommend its inclusion in nutritional
regimen for proofing body against ailments and
augmenting vitality. Advances in effective
cultivation, drying, extraction and purification
techniques have been summarized. This review
outlines the recent progresses and therapeutic
possibilities of this spirulina.
Keywords: Spirulina, antioxidant, anticancer,
antodiabetic, neuroprotection
Spirulina is a free-floating, microscopic,
filamentous blue-green alga, thriving in alkaline
fresh as well as salt water bodies (1) (Fig. 1).
This cynaobacteria, belonging to the class
cyanophyceae and order oscillatoriales is a
storehouse of bioactive molecules viz. proteins
(60-65% dry weight) with essential amino acids,
polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as ã-linoleic
acid, vitamins (B12 and E), polysaccharides
(calcium spirulan, immulan), minerals (Na, K, Ca,
Fe, Mn and Se), pigments (chlorophyll, c-
phycocyanin, allophycocyanin, β-carotene, lutein,
zeaxanthin etc.). The c-phycocyanin content was
determined to be 12.6% in dried spirulina (2).
High content of dietary zeaxanthin was reported
in its biomass (3). Also, an appreciable quantity
of vitamin E was estimated in S. platensis (4).
Gallic, chlorogenic, cinnamic, pinostrobin and
hydroxybenzoic acids have been found to be the
key constituents in various extracts of S. maxima
(5). The importance of its high-molecular weight
polysaccharides in mitigating several maladies
has been well documented (6, 7, 8, 9).
Current and Prospective Insights on Food and
Pharmaceutical Applications of Spirulina
Seema Patel1* and Arun Goyal2
1Bioinformatics and Medical Informatics Research Center, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile
Dr San Diego, CA 92182, USA
2Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati 781 039, Assam, India
*For Correspondence -
Fig. 1. (A) Spirulina harvested on a filter (B) The
biomass after squeezing out water (Pictures courtesy:
Uses of spirulina in healthcare
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
Several species of spirulina have attracted
commercial importance viz. Spirulina platensis,
Spirulina maxima and Spirulina fusiformis. It has
been consumed since centuries in various parts
of the globes, ranging from Aztec civilization in
Latin America to tribes inhabiting Central Africa’s
Lake Chad. At the United Nations World Food
Conference in 1974, this alga was decorated with
the epithet of ‘best food for the future’. Spirulina
is deemed safe for human consumption evident
by its long history of food use and contemporary
scientific findings (1). Now, it has become a major
ingredient in many nutraceutical formulations.
Current times have seen rigorous investigation
on its biological effects against many health
problems. Findings have reported the functional
food, antioxidant, immunstimulatory, anticancer,
antiinflamamtory, hypoliemic, cardioprotective,
antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, neuroprotective
and antimicrobial potentials of this novel alga.
Also, it has made strides into aquaculture and
poultry feed.
A slew of spirulina-based herbal, vitamin
and mineral supplements have been released to
the market. These nutraceuticals marketed as
tablets, capsules, dry flakes or in powder form
have garnered enormous consumer interest.
Spirulina Pacifica’ is the trademark of a Hawaiian
strain manufactured by Cyanotech Inc. ‘Earthrise
Spirulina’ is the most popular brand in the USA.
For a growing number of customers spirulina
products have assumed panacea status. These
products have secured good market in South
America, Eastern Europe, large parts of Asia and
Africa. In light of the recent surge in demonstrated
clinical properties of spirulina, this review
attempts to furnish the scattered data as a
holistically informative piece.
Uses of spirulina : Spirulina has demonstrated
a bewildering array of food and therapeutic
properties.. The key implications backed by
scientific findings are as functional food and
additives, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory,
hypolipemic and antihypertensive, antidiabetic,
anticancer, immunestimulant, antimicrobial,
hepatoprotective, neuroprotection, antianaemic
and antileucopenic and tissue engineering.
Spirulina biomass has also proved suitable as a
nutritive aquaculture feed. The food applications
and health benefits are illustrated in Fig. 2.
Fig 2. The food and pharmaceutical applications of spirulina
Seema Patel and Arun Goyal
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
As functional food, additive and prebiotic :
Spirulina has earned scientific validation
regarding its role as healthy food component.
This nutritious and easily digestible food can be
consumed in several forms. It was demonstrated
that the whole spirulina or its phycocyanin-rich
fraction could be a suitable functional ingredient
in soy milk, fruit juices and whole fruits (10). It
was suggested that the ingestion of cocoa and
spirulina powder mix can promote antioxidant
status and vascular health (11). The flavonol-rich
cocoa and phycocyanin-rich spirulina are
assumed to work in synergy to increase the
endothelial production of nitric oxide and act as
a potent inhibitor of NADPH oxidase.
Spirulina is expected to enhance the
nutritional content of conventional foods when
incorporated as colorant, texturizing agent,
gelling agent and prebiotic. The pigments
phycocyanin and allophycocyanin are used in the
food and beverage industry as a natural colorant.
This blue colorant finds use in ice cream, sweets,
chewing gum, candy, jelly, cake decorations as
well as soft drinks, alcoholic drinks (12). It was
observed that the incorporation of S. platensis
increases raw pasta firmness and imparts it a
stable color. Sensory analysis also showed better
acceptance scores (13). The effect of S. platensis
enrichment in semolina was observed. Addition
of 2g spirulina in 100g semolina resulted in higher
swelling index, lower cooking loss and increase
in pasta firmness (14). It was discovered that date
and spirulina powder-based food tablets are
suitable for consumption by those having
dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing food), to fulfil
the nutritional requirement. Also, these tablets
are expected to act as natural and cheap drug
delivery carriers (15). It was observed that at
lower heating or cooling rates, S. maxima gel
exerted viscoelastic functions akin to that of pea
protein, κ-carrageenan and starch. This finding
may lead to the use of spirulina as thickener in
food industry like the above hydrocolloids (16). It
was observed that S. platensis stimulates
proliferation of probiotic lactic acid bacteria. The
addition of dry algal biomass at 10 mg/ml
promoted growth of Lactobacillus acidophilus to
186%, suggesting the prebiotic potential of the
microalga (17). A protective medium with
spirulina as an ingredient was optimized for
enhancing viability of Lactobacillus rahamnosus
during lyophilisation. It was observed that the
algal additive at 1.3%, along with lactulose and
sucrose promotes viability of the microbe (18).
The dermoprotective potential of raw spirulina
and its lactic acid bacteria-fermented product was
compared. The results showed that though both
forms exert skin ameliorative functions; the
fermented product performed better in terms of
radical scavenging, anti-inflammation and UV
protection. It was inferred that the fermentation
process, released unidentified polyphenols and
converted phycocyanin to phycocyanobilin.
Based on the results, it was suggested that
fermented spirulina can be a potent supplement
for skin health (19).
Spirulina is an incredibly rich source of
proteins that could efficiently fight against food
deficiency in developing countries (20). The
safety profile of spirulina was investigated and
its microcystin toxin-free status was suggested.
So, it is clear that the long-term dietary
supplementation of this alga does not pose any
health risks if consumed in moderation (21).
Antioxidant : Lipid peroxidation is the
degradation of lipids due to free radicals,
generated by toxins. If not checked, the oxidative
stress causes membrane rupture and mutagenic
end-product malondialdehyde (MDA) are
produced. The efficacy of spirulina in eliminating
mercuric chloride-induced oxidative stress was
investigated in mice. Its oral supplementation
(800 mg/kg body weight, in olive oil, along with
the toxin) for 40 days led to decline in lipid
peroxidation and the activities of antioxidants
enzymes viz. superoxide dismutase (SOD),
catalase (CAT) and glutathione-S-transferase
(GSH) were restored to normalcy (22). The
supercritical fluid-extracted fraction of S.
platensis was subjected to β-carotene bleaching
method and DPPH assay to determine the
optimal extraction conditions for antioxidants. The
Uses of spirulina in healthcare
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
pressure of 220-320 bar, temperature 55°C with
10% ethanol-blended CO2 or 320 bar pressure
at 75°C temperature with pure CO2, proved
optimal for the extraction (23). The protective
effect of S. platensis on gentamicin sulphate-
induced changes in the levels of lipid peroxidation
and antioxidants in the kidney was investigated
in murine models. The algae when consumed at
a dose of 1g/kg, elicited significant nephro-
protective activity by decreasing lipid peroxidation
and elevating the levels of GSH, SOD, GPX, NO,
creatinine and urea. Biochemical as well as
histological results corroborated the findings (24).
From a battery of in vitro tests, it was concluded
that S. platensis and phycocyanin have radical-
scavenging and metal chelation properties. The
inhibition of hydroxyl and peroxyl radicals and the
lipid peroxidation were attributed to the
antioxidants (25). The possible anti-teratogenic
effect (prevention of congenital abnormalities) of
S. maxima aqueous extract against hydroxyurea
abuse in mouse embryos was determined. The
phycobiliprotein-rich extract showed a protective
effect in a dose-dependent manner without any
side effects. (26). Valproic acid is a teratogen
causing neural tube defects in mammals. The
effect of S. platenisis was investigated in
conteracting the oxidative stress imposed by
valproic acid. On the gestation day 8, sodium
valproate was injected, while spirulina was orally
administered at 125, 250, and 500 mg/kg daily
from day 0 to 18. Spirulina decreased the
incidence exencephaly and other genetic
aberrations. Increased level of SOD, CAT and
GPx was determined (27). It was reported that
spirulina can decrease the frequency of
cadmium-induced teratogenicity as exencephaly
(a condition in which brain is located outside the
skull), micrognathia (a condition when the jaw is
undersized) and skeletal abnormalities. At a dose
of 500mg/kg, the algal antioxidants could
attenuate the toxicity of cadmium on mice foetus
(28). Also, the aqueous extracts of spirulina
showed protection against t-butyl hydroperoxide-
induced cytotoxicity and reactive oxygen species
in cultured C6 glial cells (29). The antioxidant
activity of the aqueous extract of S. platensis was
assessed using both chemical and cell-based
assays. In the cell-based assay, mouse fibroblast
cells (3T3) cells were incubated for 1 h in a
medium containing the algal aqueous extract or
positive controls vitamin C and E prior to the
addition of 50 μM DPPH or ABTS. After 24 h
incubation, DPPH and ABTS assays were
conducted. The extract did not elicit any
cytotoxicity and reduced significantly apoptotic
cell death due to by 4 to 5-fold. The radical
scavenging activity of the extract was measured
about 50% of vitamin C and E (30). Spirulina has
emerged as a novel and affordable source of
antioxidant ergothioneine (a naturally occurring
aminoacid) (31). The antioxidant, radical
scavenging, and metal-chelating activities of
spirulina were evaluated alone and in
combination with whey protein concentrate. The
in vitro results showed the dose-dependent
activity of spirulina; whereas the in vivo study
revealed its protection against CCl4-induced liver
damage. The free radical scavenging properties
and antioxidant activity effect were more
pronounced in rats receiving the combination of
spirulina and whey protein concentrate (32).
Anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic effect :
The anti-inflammatory effect of spirulina was
studied in zymosan-induced arthritis in mice (33).
After 8 days of administration, the abnormal level
of β-glucuronidase in synovial fluid was
measured to have fallen down. Inhibition of the
inflammatory reaction, without any damage to the
chondrocytes was observed. Phycocyanin was
assumed to be the component exerting the
antiarthritic effect. The effect of polysaccharide
extract from S. platensis was assessed on
corneal neovascularisation both in vivo and in
vitro. Topical application of the polysaccharide
significantly inhibited the new vessel formation
in alkali burn model of cornea. The results
suggested that the polysaccharide may be
effective in the therapy of corneal opacities
involving neovascularization and inflammation
Antihyperlipemic, antithrombotic and
antihypertensive :The modern sedentary
Seema Patel and Arun Goyal
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
lifestyle and greasy food habits have resulted in
the overwhelming surge in deadly maladies like
atherosclerosis and hypertension. To counteract
the cholesterol deposition and to protect the
heart, spirulina has been studied vigorously. The
fibrinolytic effect of c-phycocyanin from S.
fusiformis was investigated against vascular
endothelial cells. The pigment showed increased
clot dissolving activity in dose- and time-
dependent manners by inducing urokinase-type
plasminogen activator in the cells (34). The effect
of oral administration of S. maxima was evaluated
on serum lipids and blood pressure (35). When
consumed at a dose of 4.5 g/day for 6 weeks, a
pronounced hypolipemic effect was observed.
Further, the potency of S. platensis diet at a dose
of 0.5 g/day, in treating high fat diet-induced
hypercholesterolemia in rabbits was evaluated.
Results showed that levels of serum cholesterol
decreased in the spirulina-fed rabbits and high-
density lipoprotein content measured higher than
control (36).
Amelioration of diabetes drug side effects :
The drugs prescribed to treat diabetes often lead
to many side effects. Common issues as nausea,
headache, weight gain, bloating, constipation,
diarrhoea may arise or serious problems as liver
damage, heart complication, pancreatitis, tumour,
bone loss, erectile dysfunction, psychosis and
muscle spasm are encountered. The protective
effects of S. fusiformis extract against
rosiglitazone (a standard type II diabetes drug)-
induced osteoporosis was assessed in insulin
resistant rats. After 45 days, the integrity of the
bone surface as well as the bone strength
improved. The bone restoration was assumed
to be due to the high content of calcium and
phosphorous in spirulina. The chromium and ã-
linoleic acid content was held responsible for
decline in the fasting serum glucose, HDL, LDL
and triglycerides levels. These findings
suggested that synergistic therapy of
rosiglitazone and spirulina can be recommended
for attenuating the risk of osteoporosis (37). The
intake of S. maxima extracts, 2 weeks prior to
and 4 weeks during streptozotocin administration
was reported to reverse the detrimental effects
of the drug on male reproductive organ. The
extract significantly increased the body and testis
weight, metabolic parameters, normal
seminiferous tubules, Leydig cell number,
testosterone levels and mRNAs for steroidogenic
enzymes (38). Clinical prospects of spirulina in
alleviating other side effects are worth-exploring.
Antimutagenic and anticancer effects :
Several studies testify that spirulina extracts are
promising chemopreventive agents. Its
antimutagenic effect on mice was investigated
using cyclophosphamide as a mutagen (39). The
subjects were fed with spirulina, 2 weeks prior to
mutagen injection. Improvement in semen quality
and prevention of post-implantation losses were
observed in spirulina-treated group. It was
inferred that the alga offers protection to the germ
cells against cyclophosphamide abuse. The
selenium-enriched S. platensis extract inhibited
the growth of human breast cancer MCF-7 cells
through induction of G1 cell cycle arrest and
mitochondria-mediated apoptosis. Induction of
apoptosis was evident from the accumulation of
sub-G1 cell population, DNA fragmentation and
nuclear condensation. The up-regulation of Bax
and Bad expression and down-regulation of Bcl-
xl expression accounted for the mitochondrial
dysfunction, leading to cancer cell death (40).
The oral administration of hot-water extract of S.
platensis was reported to enhance NK cytotoxicity
in humans. Through complex immunological and
molecular studies, it was inferred that spirulina
can be implicated with BCG-cell wall skeleton
for synergistic development of adjuvant-based
antitumor immunotherapy (41). Doxorubicin is a
well-established anticancer drug, but is riddled
with many side effects, including reproductive
aberrations. The possible role of spirulina in
alleviating its testicular toxicity was investigated
in albino rats (42). Rats administered with intra
peritoneal doxorubicin at a dose of 3 mg/kg once
in a week for 35 days, suffered a significant
decrease in sperm count and body weight.
Biochemical and histopathological studies
showed spirulina at a dose of 250 mg/kg,
Uses of spirulina in healthcare
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
administered daily prior to doxorubicin
administration restored semen quality, sperm
count and body weight. The combination
treatment restored testicular impairment to
normalcy. The use of spirulina as complementary
and alternative medicine (CAM) by breast cancer
survivors in Malay was reported (43). The
functionalization of selenium nanoparticles with
spirulina polysaccharides could be successfully
carried out. As a surface decorator, the
polysaccharide enhanced the cellular uptake of
the assembly and resultant cytotoxicity towards
several human cancers. The chemotherapeutic
potency of the assembly towards human
melanoma A375 cells was mediated through
apoptosis (9).
Immunestimulatory : It was reported that
immulina, a high-molecular-weight polysaccha-
ride from spirulina was a potent activator of
nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) and induced both
IL-1α and TNF-β mRNAs in THP-1 human
monocytes (6). Mice fed with immulina-enriched
chow for a period of for 4-5 days, exhibited
changes in several immune parameters. The ex
vivo production of IgA and IL-6 from Peyer’s patch
cells was enhanced 2-fold and interferon- α
production from spleen cells was increased 4-
fold. The enhanced production of these immune
indicate that immulina bolsters innate immunity
by stimulating both mucosal and systemic
immune systems. It was demonstrated that
immulina activates human acute monocytic
leukemia (THP-1) cells at a dose dependent
manner, stimulating leukocytes response to
inflammatory and infectious signals (44). The
immunomodulatory effect of hot-water extract,
phycocyanin and cell-wall component extract of
spirulina was evaluated in mice models. The
spirulina extracts enhanced proliferation of bone-
marrow cells and induced colony-forming activity
in the spleen-cell culture supernatant.
Granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating
factor and interleukin-3 were detected in the
culture supernatant (45). The immune response
elicited on consumption of immulina was
investigated. As a measure of the adaptive
immunity, the changes in leukocyte
responsiveness to Candida albicans and tetanus
toxoid were evaluated in vitro (46). Intake of
immulina caused an immediate but temporary
increase of Candida-induced CD4+ T-helper cell
proliferation; whereas toxoid-induced T-helper
cell proliferation was increased in individuals over
50 years of age. The Candida-elicited production
of the Th1 cytokines TNF-α, IL-2 and IFN- γ was
increased after immunlina administration for 3
days, and the increased IL-2 production lasted
up to 56 days. The immune-suppressive effect
of S. fusiformis in mice was studied (47). The in
vivo effect of spirulina on humoral immune
response, cell-mediated immune response and
tumour necrosis TNF-α was investigated in mice.
When administered at a dose of 400-800mg/kg
body wt, it significantly inhibited the humoral as
well as cell-mediated immune response and
TNF-α in a dose-dependent manner. In vitro tests
showed that, S. fusiformis at dose range of 50-
100μg/ml decreases the mitogen-induced T
lymphocyte proliferation. The above-discussed
studies are testimony to the immune-modulatory
aspects of spirulina.
Antimicrobial : The antimicrobial activity of S.
platensis was studied against various Gram-
positive, Gram-negative bacteria and fungal
species. The methanol extract showed maximum
antimicrobial potency. GC-MS analysis identified
the volatile components of S. platensis to be
heptadecane and tetradecane (48). The
supercritical fluid extraction and ethanol
fractionation of S. platensis demonstrated some
degree of activity towards Staphylococcus
aureus, Escherichia coli, Candida albicans and
Aspergillus niger (23). S. platensis was tested
for its probiotic efficacy and inhibitory effect
against several pathogens (17). The doses of 5
and 10 mg/ml promoted growth of Lactobacillus
acidophilus up to 171.67% and 185.84%,
respectively. Maximum inhibition was reported
against Proteus vulgaris, the pathogen notorious
for urinary tract and wound infections. The water
extract of S. platensis demonstrated significant
antimicrobial activity against Klebsiella
Seema Patel and Arun Goyal
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
pneumoniae and Proteus vulgaris (NCIM2027);
whereas, the acetone extract shows pronounced
biological activity against Klebsiella pneumoniae
followed by Salmonella typhi, Pseudomonas
aeruginosa, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus
aureus (49). The effect of spirulina supplement
in combating HIV patients was assessed in a six
month follow-up. The patients administered with
spirulina at a dose of 10 g/day showed significant
improvement in weight, arm girth, number of
infectious episodes, CD4 count and protidemia
(protein level in blood) (50). HIV-infected patients
develop abnormalities of glucose metabolism due
to the virus and antiretroviral drugs. The
normalizing effect of S. platensis was assessed
in HIV-infected patients. The results of the two-
month long study suggested that, the insulin
sensitivity in HIV patients improves significantly
(about 225%) when spirulina supplement (19
g/day) is taken. Further study is needed to
evaluate efficacy of spirulina in combating HIV
symptoms (51).
Cardio, hepato and pulmo protective :
Doxorubicin used for chemotherapy leads to
cardiac toxicity characterized by decrease in
myocardial contractility, mediated by reactive
oxygen species-induced apoptosis. The
cardioprotective efficacy of spirulina was
assessed in doxorubicin administered mice (52).
The animals treated with 4 mg/kg of the drug,
once a week for a month were fed with the algal
extract 3 days twice daily for 7 weeks along. The
spirulina-fed group demonstrated lower mortality
(26%), less ascites (peritoneal cavity fluid), lower
levels of lipid peroxidation and restoration of
antioxidant enzymes.
Several studies have shown that spirulina
possesses ameliorative property against stress-
induced liver injuries. The hepatoprotective effect
of S. platensis on cadmium toxicity was evaluated
on rats (53). After a month-long experimental
period, the liver samples of the subjects were
tested for determination of MDA and cellular
antioxidants. S. platensis treatment showed
marked decrease in lipid peroxidation (lower
MDA) and increase of the GSH, SOD, NO levels.
The curative effect S. maxima on patients with
non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases were reported
(54). Ultrasonography and the aminotransferase
data proved the hepatic amelioration by the oral
supplementation of the alga. The protective
power of c-phycocyanin on H2O2-induced liver
damage was investigated (55). Viability of human
hepatocyte L02 cell was determined by MTT and
alanine aminotransferase (ALT) tests. It was
observed that the hepatocytes incubated with c-
phycocyanin were able to resist morphological
changes, decrease in metabolic enzyme levels
and chromatic condensation. The ameliorative
effect of spirulina was investigated on non-
alcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty liver disease)
models of rats. Analyses of blood ans liver
samples showed the increase in plasma liver
enzymes and liver fibrosis, increases in
productions of reactive oxygen species from liver
mitochondria and from leukocytes, activation of
NK-kB and change in the lymphocyte surface
antigen ratio. Spirulina administration reversed
these adverse changes to a significant degree.
The mechanisms of action were deduced to be
due to anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory
actions (56).
The effect of c-phycocyanin extracted from S.
platensis was investigated on paraquat-induced
pulmonary fibrosis in rats. The animals orally
administered with c-phycocyanin (50 mg/kg) daily
were subjected to histological assays on days 1,
3, 7, 14, and 28. The homogenized lung sample
was measured for hydroxyproline and MDA,
which showed significant decrease in c-
phycocyanin-treated group. The observation
showed that c-phycocyanin could alleviate
pulmonary alveolitis and fibrosis in rats with
paraquat poisoning (57).
Antianaemic and antileucopenic : The effect
of S. platensis in alleviating toxic impacts of heavy
metal-adulterated diet was investigated (58). The
results suggested that the algal supplementation
may be useful in treatment of leukaemia and
anaemia caused by lead and cadmium. Based
on experimental outcome, it was inferred that 12
week supplementation of spirulina may
Uses of spirulina in healthcare
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
ameliorate anaemia in senior citizens. Steady
increase in the corpuscular haemoglobin content
in the blood samples of the subjects was
recorded (59).
Neuroprotection and tissue engineering : The
effect of S. platensis extract and its phycocyanin
was investigated on the activities of the
antioxidant enzymes SOD, CAT, GPx and GR,
lipid peroxidation inhibitory activity and
glutathione in iron-subjected SH-SY5Y
neuroblastoma cells (60). The bioactive
compounds exerted antioxidant activity evident
from its protection of glutathione peroxidise and
glutathione reductase against oxidative stress.
These results suggested that S. platensis extract
can be implicated for therapy of iron-mediated
neurodegenerative disorders as Alzheimer’s or
Parkinson diseases. The protective effect of
spirulina in transient middle cerebral artery
occlusion (MCAO)-induced focal cerebral
ischemia-reperfusion injury was evaluated in rats
(61). Male albino rats administered with spirulina
at a dose of 180 mg/kg, per day for 7 days were
subjected to arterial blockage. Spirulina
pretreatment significantly reduced the histological
changes and neurological deficits. Significant
reversal in the elevated brain MDA content and
restoration of the decreased enzymes were
observed. The possible protective potential of
spirulina on hippocampal progenitor cells against
lipopolysaccharide (LPS) abuse was determined
(62). Rats fed with 0.1% spirulina-supplemented
diet were given single intra peritoneal injections
of LPS (1 mg/kg). It’s followed by injection of the
rats with thymidine analog BrdU (50 mg/kg), in
order to detect the proliferating cells.
Quantification of the BrdU positive cells showed
that the spirulina-enriched diet could partially
check the LPS-induced decrease in progenitor
cell proliferation. Spirulina showed more
pronounced effect in combination with other
natural antioxidants as blueberry, green tea,
vitamin D and carnosine.
Like many other marine organisms,
spirulina synthesizes inorganic nanoparticles and
holds immense promise in nanomedicines.
Recently, spirulina has made major strides in
tissue engineering domains. A highly porous
scaffold was fabricated by electrospinning its
biomass. The nanofibers in the scaffold might
act as extracellular matrices for stem cell culture
(63). The electrospun polycaprolactone nanofiber
containing spirulina was evaluated for its potential
as extracellular matrix in the culture of glial cells
(64). The extract was observed to increase
growth and metabolic activity of the astrocytes.
This result holds promise in treatment of central
nervous system (CNS) injury. A hollow copper
microspiral was synthesized using spirulina as a
scaffold (65). It was suggested that an array of
low cost and reproducible biomaterials could be
manufactured using this filamentous alga.
Aquaculture and livestock feed : It was
observed that white shrimp injected with the hot-
water extract of S. platensis and immersed in
the extract-fortified seawater could combat Vibrio
alginolyticus L. vannamei better than the control.
At the studied doses, increased phagocytic
activity and the pathogen elimination was
observed (66). It was observed that S. platensis
or S. maxima supplementation in fish feed
significantly enhanced the antioxidant
ergothioneine content (31). The antimicrobial
potency of ethanolic extracts of S. platensis was
studied against fish and shellfish pathogens e.g.
Pseudomonas putida, Pseudomonas
aeruginosa, Pseudomonas fluorescens,
Aeromonas hydrophila, Vibrio alginolyticus, Vibrio
anguillarum, Vibrio fluvialis, Vibrio
parahaemolyticus, Vibrio harveyi, Vibrio fisheri,
Edwardsiella tarda and Escherichia coli. The
promising result recommends the inclusion of the
alga in aqua feed (67). Spirulina was evaluated
as a substitute of soybean and alfalfa in the feed,
on the basis of meat quality of growing rabbits
(68). No significant changes in biochemical
composition were observed apart from increased
fatty acid content in the perirenal fat in spirulina-
fed rabbits. The results of this study suggest that
S. platensis could potentially be used in rabbit
nutrition with consequent benefits on the
nutritional quality of rabbit meat for consumers.
Seema Patel and Arun Goyal
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
Advancement and bottlenecks in spirulina
technology : Spirulina needs multiple steps of
processing before reaching to market (Fig. 3).
So, appropriate technology can spare manual
labour, energy and expenses. Current scenario
in cultivation, dehydration, extraction and
purification is explored below.
The amount of phenolic compounds could
be enhanced approximately eight-fold by light
treatment (69). The shift in high light intensity led
to increase in total amounts of carbohydrate,
phycocyanin, carotenoid, malondialdehyde and
antioxidant activities. A trinuclear iron (III) furoate
was developed for regulating the biochemical
composition of S. platensis biomass, which when
supplemented at 5-10 mg/l increased iron, amino
acid, peptide and carbohydrate contents in the
alga (70). The influence of several factors on
growth and protein content of S. platensis was
determined, which showed about 60% improved
productivity at aerial sparging without any
additional mechanical stirring, low salinity and 1%
of CO2. Under intermittent illumination, when light/
dark frequency increased from 0.01-20 Hz,
specific growth rate and light efficiency were
enhanced (71). It was suggested that silver
coated polyester film fixed in culture racks serves
as a reflector of light intensity and stimulates
chrolophyll production (72). These innovative
strategies may be adopted for energy-efficient
and cost-effective spirulina cultivation.
Pre-dehydration treatment and drying are
crucial steps for preservation of spirulina
products. Antioxidants (á-tocopherol and tertiary-
butyl hydroquinone or TBHQ) and two blanching
methods (microwave and water bath) were
employed to inactivate enzymes prior to
dehydration. TBHQ proved better than á-
tocopherol in minimizing the lipid peroxidation of
blanched samples; whereas á-tocopherol was
more suited than TBHQ in unblanched samples.
Microwave blanching exerted a greater stabilizing
effect than water bath blanching. The combined
effect of TBHQ and microwave blanching was
found to be the most effective pre-dehydration
treatment for minimizing lipid peroxidation in
drying spirulina. Optimization of the low-cost sun-
drying method produced a dried product with
comparable stability to that of spray-dried product
(73). Drying of S. platensis on convective hot air
was optimized through response surface
methodology (RSM). At the optimum condition
of 55°C temperature and 3.7mm sample
thickness, least loss in bioactive lipids and
pigments were observed (74). However, these
drying techniques lead to the loss of a significant
percentage of phycocyanin and carotenoid,
warranting technological innovation.
The advent of effective extraction,
purification, contaminant detection techniques
and equipment has facilitated nutrients isolation
from spirulina. The efficacy of supercritical
carbon dioxide extraction and conventional
solvent extraction was compared in recovery of
α-linoleic acid from S. platensis. RSM
optimization proved the suitability of the former
over the latter in complete retrieval of ã-linoleic
acid (75). The supercritical CO2 extraction of
antioxidants from S. platensis was optimized
using RSM. About 10.26 g/kg of extracts,
containing flavonoids, â-carotene, vitamin A and
á-tocopherol, palmitic acid, linolenic acid and
linoleic acid was obtained under the optimum
conditions of 48°C at 20 MPa over a period of 4h
(76). The supercritical fluid extraction parameters
were optimized by RSM to obtain appreciable
yield of vitamin E from S. platensis (4). The
optimal conditions enhanced the tocopherol
content to 12-fold as compared to the initial
concentration in the crude form. The effect of
ultrasonic extraction on yields of anticancer
polysaccharides from S. maxima was studied (8).
At optimal extraction condition of 60 kHz
frequency and 60°C temperature applied for 30
min, extraction yield of 19.3% was reported.
Human stomach cancer cells showed about 89%
susceptibility to the water-soluble
polysaccharides-rich extract. Microfiltration and
ultrafiltration conditions proved suitable for pure,
food grade c-phycocyanin extraction (77). An
aqueous two-phase multi-stage countercurrent
distribution technology was suggested for
Uses of spirulina in healthcare
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
effective and low cost separation of c-
phycocyanin and allophycocyanin from S.
platensis cell homogenate (12). The adulterant
determining efficacy of least square support
vector machines (LS-SVM) models under both
full spectra and near infra red spectroscopy was
advocated (78). For the optimum extraction of
β-carotene from S. platensis, the processing
parameters were optimized. The most favourable
conditions were determined to be 1.5 spirulina
in 50ml n-heptane at 30°C ultrasonicated for
8 min. Methanol preretreatment (2 min) raised
the yield 12 times which measured 47.10% (79).
Being consumed since centuries, spirulina
has well established itself as a superfood, an
excellent weapon against an array of nutritional
deficiencies. The above presented findings
validate the potency of spirulina in thwarting
several health issues. Moreover, there is a
plethora of unexploited novel compounds and
biological activities in this alga, worth-exploring.
Innovative formulations are required to fortify
conventional foods with spirulina. Economically
feasible techniques of cultivation, drying and
isolation of bioactive compounds are needed for
maximum utilization. In recent years, spirulina
has garnered enormous attention from research
fraternity as well as industries as a thriving source
of nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Spirulina-
based dietary habit must be promoted in the
interest of the masses. This cheaply accessible
functional food can sustainably combat
malnutrition that eclipses the third world
countries. However, quality control should be
taken care of in order to ensure consumer safety.
The clinical application of this microalga as
complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
can reduce the cost of healthcare. This review is
expected to convey contemporary scenario,
kindle interest and help envision new implications
of this abundantly available resource.
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Seema Patel and Arun Goyal
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
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two-phase countercurrent distribution for
the separation of c-phycocyanin and
allophycocyanin from Spirulina platensis.
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vitro and in vivo safety assessment of edible
blue-green algae, Nostoc commune var.
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chloride induced oxidative stress in Swiss
Uses of spirulina in healthcare
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
albino mice. Food and Chemical Toxicology,
45: 2412-2419.
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functional compounds in supercritical fluid
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(25) Bermejo, P., Piñero, E. and Villar, A.M.
(2008) Iron-chelating ability and antioxidant
properties of phycocyanin isolated from a
protean extract of Spirulina platensis. Food
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(26) Vázquez-Sánchez, J., Ramón-Gallegos, E.,
Mojica-Villegas, A., Madrigal-Bujaidar, E.,
Pérez-Pastén-Borja, R. and Chamorro-
Cevallos, G. (2009) Spirulina maxima and
its protein extract protect against
hydroxyurea-teratogenic insult in mice.
Food and Chemical Toxicology, 47: 2785-
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N., Perez-Pasten, R. and Chamorro-
Cevallos, G. (2012) Spirulina (arthrospira)
protects against valproic acid-induced
neural tube defects in mice. Journal of
Medicinal Food, 15: 1103-1108.
(28) Paniagua-Castro, N., Escalona-Cardoso,
G., Hernandez-Navarro, D., Perez-Pasten,
R. and Chamorro-Cevallos, G. (2011)
Spirulina (Arthrospira) protects against
cadmium-induced teratogenic damage in
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(29) Shukla, V., Vashistha, M. and Singh, S.N.
(2009) Evaluation of antioxidant profile and
activity of amalaki (Emblica officinalis),
spirulina and wheat grass. Industrial Journal
of Clinical Biochemistry, 24: 70-75.
(30) Chu, W-L., Lim, Y-W., Radhakrishnan, A.K.
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(34) Madhyastha, H.K., Radha, K.S., Sugiki, M.,
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(35) Torres-Duran, P.V., Ferreira-Hermosillo, A.
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Seema Patel and Arun Goyal
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
(37) Gupta, S., Hrishikeshvan, H.J. and
Sehajpal, P.K. (2010) Spirulina protects
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Uses of spirulina in healthcare
Current Trends in Biotechnology and Pharmacy
Vol. 7 (2) 696-707 April 2013, ISSN 0973-8916 (Print), 2230-7303 (Online)
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Arnold, O.E., Sandrine, E.D., von der Weid,
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Vila, J.L., Hudson, C., Cole, M.J., Shytle,
R.D., Tan, J., Sanberg, P.R., Sanberg, C.D.,
Borlongan, C., Kaneko, Y., Tajiri, N.,
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(Arthrospira) extract on primary astrocytes.
Seema Patel and Arun Goyal
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Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 90:
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Uses of spirulina in healthcare
... It is an organism capable of storing different bioactive molecules, among which are the following: (1) Proteins (60%-65% dry weight) with essential amino acids; (2) polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid; (3) vitamins (B12 and E); (4) polysaccharides; (5) minerals (Na, K, Ca, Fe, Mn, and Se); and (6) pigments (chlorophyll, C-phycocyanin, allophycocyanin, β-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin). Generally, the content of the compounds varies from species-to-species proportions, but the phytochemicals that are always present in their biomass are C-phycocyanin (with a content of 12.6% in dry spirulina) and high percentages of dietary zeaxanthin [18,19]. Spirulina is the sole blue-green alga that is commercially cultivated for food use; there are various species, but those of the greatest commercial importance are A. maxima and A. platensis (also known as Spirulina maxima and Spirulina platensis). ...
... Spirulina is the sole blue-green alga that is commercially cultivated for food use; there are various species, but those of the greatest commercial importance are A. maxima and A. platensis (also known as Spirulina maxima and Spirulina platensis). Until 1989, these species had belonged to the Spirulina genus and their scientific names, respectively, were S. maxima and S. platensis, both known as "spirulina" [18][19][20]. ...
... For centuries, humans have consumed spirulina in many parts of the world, ranking from the Aztec civilization in Latin America to the tribes that inhabit the Lake Chad region of central Africa. In 1996, the World Health Organization declared spirulina the best food for the future because of contemporary scientific studies that have found a high content of proteins and natural vitamins [18,19]. Thus, Spirulina is considered safe for human consumption and has gained Nutrients 2018, 10,1954 6 of 46 popularity both as a food supplement and an important ingredient in many nutraceutical formulations worldwide. ...
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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The agents capable of causing damage to genetic material are known as genotoxins and, according to their mode of action, are classified into mutagens, carcinogens, or teratogens. Genotoxins are also involved in the pathogenesis of several chronic degenerative diseases, including hepatic, neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular disorders; diabetes; arthritis; cancer; chronic inflammation; and ageing. In recent decades, researchers have found novel bioactive phytocompounds able to counteract the effects of physical and chemical mutagens. Several studies have shown the antigenotoxic potential of different fruits and plants (Part 1). In this review (Part 2), we present a research overview conducted on some plants and vegetables (spirulina, broccoli, chamomile, cocoa, ginger, laurel, marigold, roselle, and rosemary), which are frequently consumed by humans. In addition, an analysis of some phytochemicals extracted from those vegetables and the analysis of a resin (propolis),whose antigenotoxic power has been demonstrated in various tests, including the Ames assay, sister chromatid exchange, chromosomal aberrations, micronucleus, and comet assay, was also performed.
... It is characteristically blue-green, has a left-hand helical morphology, and is known as "spirulina" (spira is Latin for spiral). They are free-floating filaments, having cylindrical multicellular trichomes-belonging to the class Cyanophyceae and order Oscillatoriales [6]. Commercially, the dried biomass of A. platensis is known as Spirulina [7]. ...
... The biomass or its phycocyanin-rich fraction can be added to soy milk and fruit juices [9]. A cocoa and Spirulina powder mixture acts as an antioxidant and promotes vascular health, increasing endothelial production of nitric oxide and inhibiting NADPH oxidase [6,10]. ...
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Humans primarily consume microalgal products due to their nutritional and immunostimulatory properties. However, these products may not benefit all persons since specific microalgae may not be compatible with all humans. While consuming micro-algal products in autoimmune diseases and their coadministration with drugs (anticoagulants, hypoglycemics, and certain herbal products), a medical specialist should closely monitor their use in patients. Hence, individuals should consult with medical experts regarding their intake of Spirulina instead of relying wholly from cyberspace. Also, in some circumstances, specific algae can be a significant source of toxins. Although Spirulina is not intrinsically toxic, it can accumulate toxins or contaminants from the environment that enter the human system when it is consumed. Mass cultivation in open ponds and open photobioreactors is prone to contamination. Also, other toxic cyanobacteria may contaminate the culture medium. The various photobioreactors designs-utilized to increase yield and reduce manufacturing cost-inadvertently provide pathways that adulterate the culture. These dangers must be addressed during the manufacturing and processing of microalgae. With the increasing demand for natural supplements and the growing scientific evidence supporting Spirulina, efforts must be made to boost their production and availability. Moreover, comprehensive research on the safety of these products and possible adverse interactions with medicines, and should be undertaken and supported by the medical and research communities. This review highlights conditions that require careful monitoring before Spirulina consumption, discusses Spirulina's interactions with specific medicines, and outlines the various sources of contaminants that may enter the algal system at any stage during the organism's life cycle.
... Moreover, there is plethora of unexploited novel compounds and biological activities in this alga and worth-exploring. [7] Innovative formulations are required to fortify conventional foods with spirulina. Hence, to satisfy the need of diabetic consumers a novel formulation with various functional ingredients in combination of spirulina, blue-green algae constitute plentiful bioactive components that will help to mitigate diabetes. ...
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A sample of 90 diabetic subjects (40–60 years) were selected from diabetic hospitals Tirupati and divided equally into three groups, namely, experimental group-1 (EG1), EG2, and control group (CG). Spirulina supplementation was given daily in the form of snack bar and capsules to EG1 and EG2, respectively, for a period of 3 months and CG was not given any supplementation. The impact of spirulina supplementation was studied on blood glucose profile of subjects before and after the study. It was observed in the present study that the mean fasting, postprandial blood glucose levels, and hemoglobin A1C were decreased significantly (P < 0.01) in Group EG1 and EG2 from pre- to post-intervention period. Non-significant change was observed of the subjects of CG. Hence, it is suggested that 2 g of spirulina supplementation as food-based approach can prove to be effective in management of diabetes.
... Patel and Goyal (2013) discovered that alga methanol extract has antimicrobial properties against many bacterial and fungal species [34]. ...
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Spirulina is a cyanobacteria (blue-green alga) rich in vital nutrients, having tremendous potential as a "future food". The utility of algae is not limited to providing nutrition. Specific alga can perform the following functions: immunomodulator, anti-allergic, cleanses the body of toxins, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and abstergent (cleansing the body of toxins). Spirulina has been a vital dietary component for humans for millennia. The United Nations recognizes Spirulina as a potential defense against malnutrition. The current evidence in support of Spirulina points towards perfoming further research regarding the promising applications of Spirulina. These organisms are a rich source of bioactive compounds and, thus, should be considered as an alternative and supplementary therapy-albeit with scientific support and evidence-based studies. The revolution in functional foods continues as the incidence of lifestyle-related diseases is increasing. The most notable experiments have been conducted in studying Spirulina's effect on metabolic disorders, revealing its ability to reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose. Also, Spirulina has particular applications in cancer research, protecting against the adverse effects of specific chemotherapeutic agents. Microalgae can also form special supplements for vegetarians, offsetting the absence of protein in the vegan diet. Nevertheless, Spirulina also has a negative side and potential adverse effects. Self-medication with Spirulina supplements can lead to unwanted complications if a person is taking immunosuppressants or anticoagulants concomitantly or suffering from auto-immune diseases. Children and pregnant women should avoid these products until more applicable data are obtained. Also, some people may have an inherent allergy to algal products.
... Currently and to our knowledge, only four EPS from Cyanobacteria are commercially available and exploited in niche markets mainly in the cosmetic and nutraceutical area. They are Spirulan, Immulan, Nostoflan, and Emulcyan extracted from respectively Arthrospira platensis, Aphanotece halophytica, Nostoc flagelliforme, and Phormidium [22,[113][114][115]. ...
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Cyanobacteria have the potential to become an industrially sustainable source of functional biopolymers. Their exopolysaccharides (EPS) harbor chemical complexity, which predicts bioactive potential. Although some are reported to excrete conspicuous amounts of polysaccharides, others are still to be discovered. The production of this strain-specific trait can promote carbon neutrality while its intrinsic location can potentially reduce downstream processing costs. To develop an EPS cyanobacterial bioprocess (Cyano-EPS) three steps were explored: the selection of the cyanobacterial host; optimization of production parameters; downstream processing. Studying the production parameters allow us to understand and optimize their response in terms of growth and EPS production though many times it was found divergent. Although the extraction of EPS can be achieved with a certain degree of simplicity, the purification and isolation steps demand experience. In this review, we gathered relevant research on EPS with a focus on bioprocess development. Challenges and strategies to overcome possible drawbacks are highlighted.
... Interestingly, however, the resultant effects of SP were higher than those of G-CSF. (Marangoni et al., 2017), hepatoprotective (Khafaga et al., 2018), neuroprotection (Pabon et al., 2012), and antileucopenic effects (Patel et al., 2013). As such, it has shown several beneficial therapeutic implications in due to these properties. ...
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Spirulina platensis (SP) is a blue-green alga used as a dietary supplement as it possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective effects with clinical importance in several disorders. The aim of this study was to evaluate the ameliorating effects of SP extract on toxicity induced mice by treatment with the anticancer drug cyclophosphamide (CTX). To this end, SP was cultured under optimal conditions of growth at pH 9 for 9 days using Zarrouk , s medium. The active ingredients including pigments, phycobiliproteins and total soluble proteins were estimated in SP suspensions which were then dried to a powder form. To assess anti-toxicity, adult male albino mice were treated with interperitoneal (i.p.) injection of PBS, single dose of CTX (4mg/mouse), CTX (i.p.) followed by subcutaneous (s.c.) injection of G-CSF (5μg/mouse) daily for 5 consecutive days or CTX (i.p.) followed by oral administration of 0.5 gm/mouse SP extract for 7 consecutive days. After 7 days of initial treatment with CTX, mice were sacrificed; blood, spleen, bone marrow and liver were harvested to assess CBC, total count for spleen and bone marrow and liver for biochemical analysis. The results showed that SP showed the highest yield of dry weight and pigment content C-phycocyanin (CPC), allophycocyanin (APC), phycoerthrin (PE) and total phycobiliproteins (phycobilins) at the 9 th day of growth at pH 9 in culture. Oral administration of SP induced amelioration of CTX induced leucopenia in blood, bone marrow and spleen comparable to those of G-CSF. It also ameliorated the dysfunction in the liver enzymes ALT and AST. Interestingly, however, SP showed higher antioxidant effects than those of G-CSF as reflected by the higher activities of the anti-oxidant MDA and GSH. Conclusion: SP showed potent antitoxic effect through antioxidant activity and thus could be a useful co-adjuvant agent against chemotherapeutic drugs toxicity including cyclophosphamide.
... Spirulina is an excellent source of nutrients such as essential fatty acids, high biological value proteins, minerals, and vitamins. It also possesses strong antioxidants, including C-phycocyanin, vitamins E and C, β-carotene, phenolic compounds, γ-linolenic acid, ergothioneine, zeaxanthin, selenium, zinc, and α-lipoic acid [2,[20][21][22][23]. Several in vitro and in vivo investigations exhibited antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, immunomodulatory, antimicrobial (i.e., antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal), and anticancer properties of spirulina [24], including its therapeutic effects on several inflammatory disorders, for example, arthritis, colitis, and cardiovascular diseases [2,25]. ...
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Background: Antioxidant therapy has gained attention for the treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC). The excessive generation of reactive oxygen/nitrogen species in the gastrointestinal tract increases oxidative stress, thereby leading to antioxidant defense depletion, lipid peroxidation, inflammation, tissue damage, and ulceration. Spirulina platensis (SP) and honey are excellent sources of potent antioxidants such as polyphenols and other bioactive compounds. We aimed to investigate antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of honey and SP in comparison with sulfasalazine (SSZ) and mesalazine on acetic acid-induced colitis (AA-colitis) in rats. Materials and methods: Fifty-six Sprague Dawley male rats were allocated to seven groups, with each group comprising eight rats. UC was induced, except in normal controls (NC). All groups received oral treatments for seven days. The normal saline solution of 2 mL was intrarectally administered to the NC group. The AA-colitis and NC groups received 2 mL acetic acid intrarectally as a single dose and 2 mL normal saline for seven consecutive days orally. The mesalazine group received 100 mg/kg mesalazine, the SSZ group 360 mg/kg SSZ, the honey or H group 1 mL honey diluted with 1 mL distilled water, the SH group 1g/kg SP and 1 mL honey, and the SP group 1g/kg SP. After clinical activity score assessment, the rats were sacrificed. Colonic weight/length ratio, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), myeloperoxidase (MPO), nitric oxide (NO), malondialdehyde (MDA), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), reduced glutathione (GSH), and superoxide dismutase (SOD) were measured. Colonic histopathological changes were observed microscopically. Results: Treatment of UC with SP, honey, and combination regimen significantly reduced TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, MDA, MPO, NO, and PGE2, and increased TAC, GSH, GPx, and SOD in interventional groups compared to the AA-colitis group (P<0.05). Conclusion: Honey and SP might be beneficial food supplements for medical nutrition therapy in UC.
Background: Sodium arsenite is a dangerous bio-accumulative poison affecting a large number of people as well as animals throughout the world. It is used clinically in the treatment of certain medical conditions, but due to its harmful damage to different tissues and mainly the cardiotoxicity, its medical application is limited. Aim: this study was conducted to investigate the protective effects of spirulina on cardiotoxicity induced by sodium arsenite biochemically and histologically. Methods: 30 young adult male albino rats, were randomly equally divided into three groups 10 animals each .Group I (control) , Group II Arsenic intoxicated (10 mg/kg/ day/ 4 weeks) , Group III spirulina protected animals (concomitant sodium arsenite 10 mg/kg/ day/ 4 weeks and spirulina 200 mg/kg/ day/ 4 weeks). Results: it was evident from the study that arsenic exposure exerted a significant increase in cardiac enzymes levels, Serum creatine kinase MB (CKMB) and troponin. Concomitant treatment with spirulina is considerably recovered their serum levels. Histological alterations associated with arsenite treated animals is significantly decreased after using spirulina. Conclusions: the results of the present study showed that use of spirulina could alleviate the toxic effects on the heart following exposure to arsenic toxicity. Keywords: Arsenic toxicity, Cardiotoxicity, spirulina, Serum creatine kinase, troponin
A diverse range of agents, from biological and chemical to mechanical, can be perceived as stressors by the immune system. Even the diet, depending on its components and dosage, can provoke the immune system. Processed foods are acidogenic which lower the pH of the extracellular matrix (ECM), causing an aberrant enzyme activity. The consequent agitated immune system is linked to all pathologies including infections, metabolic disorders, and autoimmune diseases. Disturbed immunity has also been implicated in neuropathologies. Inflammation, which perturbs the neuro-endocrine-immune axis, is the central mechanism related to neural issues. During inflammation, the weapons of the innate immune system, cytokines, produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), which cause damage to the organs. Mapping of disease-specific biomarkers has showed the correlation between the aberrant expression of neural, immune, and metabolic mediators (insulin, leptin, cytokine, angiotensin II, serine protease, aromatase, estrogen, and neurotransmitters) and neural ailments such as multiple sclerosis, depression, autism, and dementia, among others. In this manner, the immunometabolic mechanisms control the neural health through interacting signaling pathways such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). For a clearer picture of these connections, this chapter discusses the nexus between diet, immune system, and neural system.
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Increasing Cyanobacteria Spirulina Production with Mixing and Chemical Composition of Culture Medium 1 Sheykhi Nejad A. 1 , Lababpour A.M. 353 1 and Moazami N. Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology Dept., National Institute of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (NIGEB), Tehran, Iran 2 Biotechnology Dept., Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST), Tehran, Iran Abstract In this research, the effects of aeration and agitation of culture vessel on Spirulina biomass production were studied in five various culture media. Spirulina was cultivated in Zarrouk, Jourdan, F2, Schlosser, and seawater salt culture media. In the cultivation system with aeration, mixing was performed with air flow of 0.2 vvm, and in cultivation system with agitation of culture vessel, shaking was performed continiously at 150 rpm using a shaker. Temperature and lighting were kept constant in all cultures and at 26 ± 2ºC and 40 µE m-2s-1, respectively. Spirulina was grown in all cultures, reached to highest cell concentrations of 4.0 g L -1 by agitation system and 3.68 g L by aeration system. In agitation, highest level of biomass production obtained in Zarrouk culture medium equal to 4.0 g L -1 wheares lowest level was obtained in seawater salt culture medium equal to 2.49 g L -1 . In aeration, the highest level of biomass production of 3.69 g L -1 was obtained in seawater salt culture medium wheares lowest of 2.3 g L was obtained in F2 culture medium. The pH increased continuously up to 10.9 during cultivation in agitation system, but in the aeration system, the pH increase up to the 7 cultivation day and then stopped at 10.1. In the seawater salt culture medium, biomass production in the aeration system was higher than in the agitation of culture vessel. The finding of this study indicate that stress has high effects on Spirulina growth and biomass production, and by reducing the stress, the yield of Spirulina production can be increased for commercial purposes. Key words: Spirulina, mixing, biomass production, cyanobacteria, culture medium
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Phenolic compounds regarded as important pharmaceuticals with various biological activities are found in low amounts in microalgae. The objective of this study was to increase the amount of phenolic compounds in Spirulina platensis by a two-step batch mode cultivation. The evaluation of the effect of the sudden shift from low light to high light on phenolic compound production, antioxidant activity, growth, and biomass composition of S. platensis was undertaken. The amount of phenolic compounds was significantly increased by approximately eightfold (p
The crude ethanol, methanol and aqueous extracts of Spirulina (Spirulina platensis) have been investigated for antibacterial activity using disc diffusion assays against various strains of fish and shellfish pathogens e.g. Pseudomonas putida (ATCC 49128; PP1, PP2), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 35032; PA1, PA2), Pseudomonas fluorescens (PF1, PF2), Aeromonas hydrophila (ATCC 49140; AH1, AH2, AH3, AH4), Vibrio alginolyticus (VA), Vibrio anguillarum (VAN), Vibrio fluvialis (VF), Vibrio parahaemolyticus (VP), Vibrio harveyi (VH), Vibrio fisheri (VFS), Edwardsiella tarda and animal isolates of Escherichia coli (O115, O1, O156, O164, O111 and O109). The minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of crude extracts were determined using the tube dilution method. Ethanolic extract showed comparatively higher antibacterial activity (15.66 mm) than that of methanolic and aqueous extract of S. platensis along with their respective MIC values, ranging from 100 to 150 μg mL−1. The aqueous extract had no effective antibacterial activity against the test microorganism. The study suggested that S. platensis may have potential use in aqua feed as an antimicrobial agent of pharmaceutical interest.
Arthrospira (Spirulina) platensis Toliara isolated from alkaline and salt lakes in the south-western area of Madagascar is a potential source of proteins that could efficiently fight against food deficiency in developing countries like Madagascar. Up to now, productivity in this country has been low, so a better understanding of the growth conditions of this species is needed to improve its production. Growth experiments were undertaken in bubble columns at laboratory scale. The influence of agitation of the culture, medium salinity (ranging from 13 to 35 g L−1) and CO2 addition (ranging from 0 to 2%, v/v) on growth and protein content was examined. Because Arthrospira cells are fragile, a bubble column without additional mixing gave the best growth. Arthrospira (Spirulina) platensis showed higher specific growth rate (μmax) and protein content for lower salinity. Addition of 1% of CO2 improved the productivity by near 60%. The feasability of semi-continuous culture was demonstrated and optimal culture conditions led to a mean productivity of 0.22 ± 0.03 g L−1 d−1, a mean specific growth rate of 0.015 ± 0.002 h−1 and a protein content of 53 ± 2% of total dry weight.
Oxidative damage is implicated in the pathogenesis of various liver injuries. C-phycocyanin (C-PC), which is a potent free radical scavenger and antioxidant agent, has been reported to have hepatoprotective activities in in vivo studies. The protective effect of C-PC on hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced damage was investigated in human hepatocyte cell line L02. The cell viability was determined using the tetrazolium dye colorimetric test (MTT test) and the cytotoxicity was estimated by alanine aminotransferase (ALT) leakage. Morphological changes were observed under a light microscope stained with Wright-Giemsa dye solution. Intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation was measured using a fluorescent probe 2,7-dichlorohydrofluoroscein diacetate (H2DCFDA). Lipid peroxidation was estimated through malondialdehyde (MDA) formation, while antioxidant ability was estimated using SOD activity and GSH level. Our results showed H2O2-induced cell death with apoptotic characteristics including growth inhibition and chromatin condensation. When the cells were co-incubated with C-PC, cytotoxicity induced by H2O2 was significantly attenuated. Moreover, C-PC significantly prevented the H2O2-induced overproduction of intracellular ROS and MDA, as well as changes in SOD activity and GSH level. Taken together, our results suggest that C-PC protects human hepatocyte cells against H2O2-induced damage through attenuating oxidative stress. These results support the potential hepatoprotective effect of C-PC by preventing oxidative stress in hepatocytes.
Spirulina platensis (SP) is a useful raw material for human and animal nutrition due to its high protein content. It is also a source of minerals, carotenoids, chlorophyl, pigments and essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as γ-linolenic acid (GLA). The effects of four levels (0, 50, 100, or 150g/kg of SP) included in the diet to replace soybean and alfalfa on some carcass characteristics and the meat quality of growing rabbit have been investigated. The modifications of the diet composition did not significantly influence the carcass yield or the proportions of the various carcass parts and organs. The chemical composition of the meat was unaffected, with the exception of the lipid content, which was lower in the control group than in the groups fed the SP diets. The fatty acid (FA) profile of the perirenal fat and longissimus dorsi muscle was determined to evaluate the effect of SP supplementation on the GLA content of these tissues. The content of this FA increased in the perirenal fat and meat with increasing SP supplementation. As a direct result of the diet composition, the FA profiles and the atherogenic and thrombogenic indexes of the rabbit tissues showed significant differences. These indexes were lower in the meat of the rabbits fed the SP diets than those found in the control group. The results of this study suggest that SP could potentially be used in rabbit nutrition with consequent benefits on the nutritional quality of rabbit meat for consumers.
Phycocyanin in Spirulina (currently named Arthrospira platensis) acts as an antioxidant in various biological systems. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and UV protective activity of unadulterated Arthrospira (UAP) and the product of Arthrospira fermented with lactic acid bacteria (FAP) were assayed in skin-care models. The results showed that both UAP and FAP had skin-care activities in all tested models, except for anti-bacterial activity. FAP scavenged DPPH (1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl) radical and nitric oxide, along with anti-inflammatory and UV protective activities, all of which varied with the dose used, but nevertheless, were significantly higher than those found in UAP. The UV protective activity of FAP was also significantly higher (p
C-phycocyanin (C-PC) and allophycocyanin (APC) with similar molecular structures were separated, respectively from Spirulina platensis cell homogenate by single extraction and multi-stage countercurrent distribution (CCD) using an aqueous two-phase system (ATPS) composed of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and potassium phosphate (KPi). The partition coefficients of C-PC and APC were 10.64 and 0.57, respectively, and the extraction selectivity of C-PC was 18.67 from 0.5% (w/w) S. platensis crude extract by single extraction using PEG6000/KPi ATPS (pH 7.0) with 34% (w/w) tie line length (TLL). In ten-stage CCD under the same ATPS extraction condition with 2% (w/w) S. platensis crude extract, the purity of C-PC increased nearly twice and the recovery of APC increased more than nine-fold compared with single extraction. The results displayed that most C-PC (82.1%) followed the mobile phase was enriched in the top phases of the last three tubes, while more APC (41%) remained in the stationary phase was enriched in the bottom phases of the first three tubes in the ten-stage CCD. Hence, aqueous two-phase CCD technology provided an effective and low cost method for C-PC and APC separation from S. platensis cell homogenate directly.
Ergothioneine (ET) is a unique natural antioxidant. We have examined the origin of ET in zebrafish. There was virtually no ET, measured by LC–MS, in most tank vegetation (plant, green and red alga). However, ET was detected in a Phormidium sample, a cyanobacterium. In commercial fish feed preparations, ET content increased with the content of cyanobacteria Arthrospira platensis or Arthrospira maxima (Spirulina). High levels of ET (up to 0.8mg per g dry mass) were measured in cyanobacteria preparations sold as dietary supplements for humans and in fresh Scytonema and Oscillatoria cultures. Cyanobacteria contained as much ET as King Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus eryngii). All samples with substantial ET content also contained the biosynthesis intermediate hercynine; this strongly suggests that cyanobacteria synthesise ET de novo. In conclusion, our data establish that cyanobacteria can produce high levels of ergothioneine. Spirulina is a novel, safe, accessible, and affordable source of ergothioneine for humans.