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Spirulina platensis, a super food?

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Journal of Cellular Biotechnology 5 (2019) 43–54
DOI 10.3233/JCB-189012
IOS Press
43
Spirulina platensis, a super food?
F. Junga,,A.Kr
¨
uger-Gengeb, P. Waldeckcand J.-H. K¨
upperc,d
aInstitute of Clinical Haemostasiology and Transfusion Medicine, University of Saarland,
Homburg, Germany
bDepartment of Biomaterials and Healthcare, Fraunhofer Institute Applied Polymer Research (IAP),
Division of Life Science and Bioprocesses, Potsdam-Golm, Germany
cInstitute of Biotechnology, Brandenburgische Technische Universit¨at Cottbus-Senftenberg,
Senftenberg, Germany
dCarbon Biotech Social Enterprise Stiftungs AG, Senftenberg, Germany
Abstract. Spirulina platensis, a multicelluar, photosynthetic prokaryote (algae) contains a high amount of proteins, vitamins
and minerals superior to many foods as e.g. soybeans. Thus, Spirulina platensis was recognized as nutritious food by the
United Nations World Food Conference. Due to the high amount of nutritive ingredients Spirulina has a long history as
dietary supplement. In addition, spirulina platensis is also efficiently used as forage with known effects on flesh, egg and
plumage color, milk yield and fertility. The versatile utilization of the alga can be explained on the one hand with the nutrient
levels and on the other hand with recognized effects as anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and
anti-inflammatory substance. Therefore, this alga is named as “superfood”. Beyond, these algae convert carbon dioxide into
organic substances and produce oxygen during their growth in alkaline and saline water thereby not wasting fresh water
allowing the production in barren areas.
Despite this diverse use of Spirulina platensis due to its beneficial properties, many basic mechanisms on a molecular and
cellular level are not well understood and should be explored in future studies.
Keywords: Spirulina, health effects, dietary supplements, liver protection, virus infection, HIV, nutrition, animal feeding
1. Background
Compared to other foods or by weight, Spirulina is recognized as one of the most nutritious foods
on the planet: high in proteins, containing all essential amino acids, also high in B vitamins, iron,
magnesium, potassium and many other vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. Therefore,
spirulina was declared by the United Nations World Food Conference already in 1974 as the best food
for the future.
Spirulina platensis is a multicellular blue-green microalga (prokaryote) (length: 50–500 m, width:
3–4 m) belonging to the phylum Cyanophyta (Cyanobacteria). Its name derives from the nature of its
filaments, characterized by cylindrical, multicellular trichomes in an open left-handed helix. Taxonomi-
cally, “Spirulina” describes mainly two species of Cyanobacteria, Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira
maxima. Both have been used as food, dietary supplement, and feed supplement [1]. These and other
Arthrospira species forming helical trichomes were once classified into a single genus, Spirulina [2].
Before this classification by Geitler et al., depending on the presence of septa, the two genera were
placed separately: The Spirulina species being without septa and the Arthrospira species with septa.
Corresponding author: Prof. Dr. F. Jung, Institute of Clinical Haemostasiology and Transfusion Medicine, University of
Saarland, Homburg, Germany. E-mail: Friedrich.Jung@hzg.de.
2352-3689/19/$35.00 © 2019 – IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved
44 F. Jung et al. / Spirulina platensis, a super food?
Recent morphological, physiological, and biochemical studies have shown that these two genera are
distinctively different and that the edible forms commonly referred to as Spirulina platensis have little
in common with other much smaller species. This distinction has been also based on results from the
complete sequence of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) between
the 16S and 23S rRNA genes determined for two Arthrospira strains and one Spirulina strain [3] show-
ing that the two Arthrospira strains formed a close cluster distant from the Spirulina strain. Habitats for
Spirulina include the Pacific Ocean near Japan and Hawaii, and large freshwater lakes, including Lake
Chad in Africa, Klamath Lake in North America, Lake Texcoco in Mexico, and Lake Titikaka in South
America.
Spirulina has long been used as a dietary supplement by people living close to alkaline lakes where it
is naturally found. It was used as food in Mexico by the Aztecs and other Mesoamericans until the 16th
century. One of Hernan Cort´
es’ soldiers described the harvest of algae at the lake Texcoco and the sale as
cakes called “tecuitlatl” [4–6]. It has and is still being used as food by the ethnic group of Kanembu at the
lake Chad area of the Republic of Chad where it is sold as dried bread called “dihe” [7]. This traditional
food was rediscovered in Chad by a European scientific mission and is now widely cultured throughout
the world with gained popularity in the human health food industry. In many African countries it is
collected from natural water, dried and eaten, as a major source of protein and in many countries of Asia
it is used as protein supplement and as health food. Spirulina has been used as a complementary dietary
ingredient of feed for fish, shrimp and poultry, and increasingly as a protein and vitamin supplement to
aquafeeds.
2. Biochemical composition
Spirulina has high quality protein content (55–70 percent of the dry weight), which is more than
other commonly used plant sources such as dry soybeans (35 percent), peanuts (25 percent) or grains
(8–10%). The biochemical composition of Spirulina can be summarized as follows [5]:
2.1. Proteins
Spirulina contains unusually high amounts of protein, between 55 and 70 percent by dry weight,
depending upon the source [8]. It is a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids, though
with reduced amounts of methionine, cystine, and lysine, as compared to standard proteins such as
that from meat, eggs, or milk; it is, however, superior to all standard plant protein, such as that from
legumes.
2.2. Essential fatty acids
Spirulina has a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), 1.5–2.0 percent of5-6
percent total lipid. In particular, Spirulina is rich in -linolenic acid (36 percent of total PUFAs),
and also provides -linolenic acid (ALA), linoleic acid (LA, 36 percent of total PUFAs), steari-
donic acid (SDA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic
acid (AA).
F. Jung et al. / Spirulina platensis, a super food? 45
2.3. Vitamins
Spirulina contains vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinamide), B6 (pyridoxine), B9
(folic acid), B12 (cyanocobalamin), vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E.
2.4. Minerals
Spirulina is a rich source of potassium, and also contains calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magne-
sium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc.
2.5. Photosynthetic pigments
Spirulina contains many pigments including chlorophyll a, xanthophyll, beta-carotene,
echinenone, myxoxanthophyll, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin, diatoxanthin, 3-hydroxyechinenone, beta-
cryptoxanthin, oscillaxanthin, plus the phycobiliproteins c-phycocyanin and allophycocyanin.
The detailed biochemical composition of Spirulina may vary according to the growing conditions
especially in response to the salinity of the growing medium; it grows in fresh water (pH 7) but also in
highly alkaline environments (pH 9–11) of tropical and subtropical areas [9, 10]. Vonshak et al. [11]
reported that salt-adapted cells had a modified biochemical composition with a reduced protein and
chlorophyll content, and increased carbohydrate content. In addition, algae produced under laboratory
conditions differ from those collected in natural environment or in mass culture systems using different
agro-industrial waste effluent.
Nowadays, Spirulina is produced in at least 22 countries: Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chad, Chile,
China, Costa Rica, Cˆ
ote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, France, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Peru,
Israel, Spain, Thailand, Togo, United States of America, Taiwan and Vietnam [5]. About 1000 tons are
produced in algae farms in the USA, Hawaii, Mexico, South America. However, production in China
was first recorded at 19,080 tons in 2003 and rose sharply to 41,570 tons in 2004. Unfortunately, a full
monitoring of worldwide production is lacking [5, 12].
The production mostly takes place under controlled conditions, so that toxic components (from other
blue-green algae), pesticides or heavy metal pollution are largely excluded. However, there is an unmet
role for national governments — as well as intergovernmental organizations like UN or FAO — to
evaluate the potential of spirulina to fulfill food security needs.
The general composition of spirulina varies by location and type of production, but is approximately
as follows:
Proteins 55–70%
Carbohydrates 15–25%
Lipids 6–8%
Minerals 7–13%
Humidity (dried algae) 3–7%
Dietary fibers 8–10%
Remarkable on the one hand is the high proportion of proteins and on the other hand of essential fatty
acids (especially the polyunsaturated fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid) of 1.3% [13]. The high protein
content consists of eight essential amino acids (isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine,
threonine, tryptophan, valine) as well as the non-essential amino acids (alanine, arginine, aspartate
acid, cystine, glycine, histidine, proline, serine, tyrosine, and glutamic acid) [14].
46 F. Jung et al. / Spirulina platensis, a super food?
In addition, spirulina contains almost all the essential vitamins. The following table indicates the
vitamin content in 10 g spirulina.
Vitamin A 23000 IU Vitamin B1 0.35 mg
-Carotene 14 mg Vitamin B2 0.40 mg
Vitamin C 0.8 mg Vitamin B3 1.4 mg
Vitamin D 1200IU Vitamin B6 60g
Vitamin E 1.0 mg Folic acid 1.0 g
Vitamin K 200 g Vitamin B12 20.0 g
Biotin 0.5 g Pantothenic acid 10.0 g
Inositol 6.4 mg
10 g Spirulina contain the following amount of minerals [15]:
Calcium 70 mg Manganese 0.5 mg
Iron 15 mg Chrome 25 g
Phosphorus 60 mg Molybdenum
Iodine 55 g Chloride
Magnesium 40 mg Sodium 90 mg
Zinc 0.3 mg Potassium 140 mg
Selenium 10g Germanium 60 g
Copper 120 g Boron
The amount of natural pigments in Spirulina is extremely high. Spirulina consists of 14% phy-
cocyanin (blue pigment), 1% chlorophyll (green pigment) and 0.5% carotenoids (yellow, orange, or
red pigments). All vital substances in Spirulina have a high bioavailability; that is, they can absorb
optimally and without much loss. On the one hand, all nutrients are balanced and, on the other
hand, these microalgae species are - in contrast to other algae - only enclosed by a typical Gram-
negative cell wall consisting mainly of peptidoglycan which can easily be absorbed by the human body
(digestibility of 86% [16]) and does not require chemical or physical processing in order to become
digestible [17].
The current use of this resource has four precedents: tradition, scientific and technological develop-
ment, and the so-called, “green tendency” [18]. From 1970, the nutritional and medicinal studies on
Spirulina have steadily increased [19]. From the last 20 years, there are a number of studies that make
it suitable for use as a feed, or even as a drug in veterinary medicine [20, 21]. This was already indi-
cated by the analysis of the ingredients: chlorophyll, phycobiliproteins (phycocyanin, allophycocyanin,
phycoerythin), carotenoids like -carotene and various xanthophylls (zeaxanthin, echinenone, canthax-
anthin, cryptoxanthin, myxoxanthophyll), cyanophycin and starch-like compounds (cyanophycean
starch) [22].
Aware of theses aspects, the World Health Organization predicts that spirulina will become one of
the most curative and prophylactic foods in the twenty-first century.
3. Health effects of spirulina
A lot of studies on spirulina have been performed as an alternative feed for animals (see review
in [5]). Spirulina can be fed up to 10% for poultry [23]. An increase in the spirulina content up to
40 g/kg for 16 days in 21-day-old broiler male chicks, resulted in yellow and red coloration of flesh
may be due to the accumulation of the yellow pigment, zeaxanthin [24]. Similar to poultry, pigs and
rabbits can also receive up to 10% of the feed [25, 26]. In cattle, an increase of the spirulina content
F. Jung et al. / Spirulina platensis, a super food? 47
Fig. 1. Reported biological and health effects of Spirulina.
resulted in an increased milk yield and weight [26, 27]. Spirulina as an alternative feedstock and
immune booster for big-mouth buffalo [27], milk fish, cultured striped jack [29], carp [30], red sea
bream [31], tilapia [32], catfish [33], yellow tail [34], zebrafish [35], shrimp [36, 37], and abalone
[38] was established with a safely recommendation of up to 2% spirulina per day in aquaculture
feed [5].
In basic studies different biological and health effects have been described (see Fig. 1).
3.1. Anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity of Spirulina
Spirulina exhibits potent anti-bacterial activities against pathogenic bacteria [39–42]. Administra-
tion of 0.1% Spirulina resulted in heightened bacterial clearance (E. coli &S. aureus) 30 minutes
post-injection with almost negligible bacterial counts in the blood. This heightened bacterial clearance
was attributed to the immune-potentiating effects of Spirulina [43]. The methanol extract of S. platen-
sis showed more potent anti-microbial activity than dichloromethane, petroleum ether, ethyl acetate
extracts and volatile anti-bacterial components [39].
In lower concentrations Spirulina reduced viral replication while blocking the replication of viruses
at higher concentration. In addition, it could be shown that water soluble extract of Spirulina inhibited
viral cell-penetration and replication of the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) in cultured HeLa cells
in a dose dependent manner. At just 1mg/ml, the extract is shown to inhibit viral protein synthesis
without suppressing host cell functions. Spirulina fed hamsters had prolonged survival times and
higher survival rates when challenged with the HSV-1 [44]. The anti-viral activity was attributed
to sulphated polysaccharide termed “Calcium Spirulan” (Ca-Sp), which has been shown to inhibit
replication of many enveloped viruses by inhibition of viral penetration into target cells without host
toxicity. Presently, Ca-SP has been shown to exhibit activity against human cytomegalovirus, measles
virus, mumps virus, influenza A virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) as well as HSV-1 [44].
The active Ca-Sp could be a good candidate for therapeutic intervention against HIV-1 and other viruses
because of its low anticoagulant activity, long half-life in the blood, and dose-dependent bioactivity
[46–48].
48 F. Jung et al. / Spirulina platensis, a super food?
3.2. Detoxification of toxic minerals
Spirulina has a unique quality to detoxify (neutralize) or to chelate toxic minerals, a character-
istic that is not yet confirmed in any other microalgae [49, 50]. Spirulina can be used to detoxify
arsenic from water and food. At the Beijing University bioactive molecules from spirulina have
been extracted which could neutralize or detoxify toxic and poisonous effect of heavy metals, and
which showed anti-tumor activity. Therefore, spirulina could also be used to chelate or detoxify
the poisonous effect of heavy metals (minerals) from water, food and environment. Fukino could
show that Spirulina successfully counteracted poisoning of the kidneys by heavy metals assisting the
detoxification [51].
3.3. Anti-inflammatory activity
In experimental models the phycocyanin extract of Spirulina exhibited anti-inflammatory activity
[52–54]. The anti-inflammatory effect seemed to be a result of phycocyanin which inhibited the for-
mation of leukotriene B4, an inflammatory metabolite of arachidonic acid [55]. C-phycocyanin is a
free radical scavenger [9] and has significant hepatoprotective effects [56]. In mouse and in chicken
an increased phagocytic activity could be proved [57, 43]. This was confirmed by two further studies,
showing a reduction of chronic diffuse liver disease [58] or a selective inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2
by C-phycocyanin [59]. It also prevented inflammatory stomach and intestinal diseases [60], a condition
for a complete absorption of nutrients.
3.4. Immuno-modulatory effects
Spirulina is described to be a powerful tonic for the immune system [61]. In studies on mice,
hamsters, chickens, turkeys, cats and fish, Spirulina consistently improved immune system func-
tion. Spirulina stimulated the immune system and actually enhanced the body’s ability to generate
new blood cells. The spleen and thymus glands showed enhanced function. Macrophages, T-cells
and Natural killer (NK) cells exhibited enhanced activity following Spirulina administration. Feed-
ing of even small amounts of Spirulina to mice resulted in following immuno-modulatory functions
[62–64]:
Mice fed Spirulina showed increased numbers of splenic antibody-producing cells in the primary
immune response to sheep red blood cells,
The percentage of phagocytic cells in peritoneal macrophages from mice fed a Spirulina diet was
significantly increased,
The proliferation of spleen cells by either Concanavalin A (Con A) or phytohemagglutinin (PHA)
was significantly increased,
Addition of a hot water extract of Spirulina (SHW) to an in vitro culture of spleen cells significantly
increased proliferation of these cells with no effect on thymus cells,
– The hot water extract of Spirulina also significantly enhanced interleukin-1 production from
peritoneal macrophages, and
Addition of the hot water extract of Spirulina to an in vitro spleen culture and the supernatant of
macrophages resulted in enhancement of antibody production.
Food supplementation with polysaccharides/phycocyanin (ingredients of Spirulina) stimulated T-
lymphocytes [65] and also Natural Killer cells [66], so that bacteria and viruses could much more
actively be combated [43]. Blinkova reported that Spirulina was able to improve the function of spleen
and thymus gland, supporting the killing of invading pathogens [67]. In line with these observations,
F. Jung et al. / Spirulina platensis, a super food? 49
Hayashi’s group reported that Spirulina prevented the penetration of viruses into the membrane of
the host cells [44, 45]. This was discussed to make spirulina-fed birds and poultry more resistant to
infections [68].
In addition, the humoral immune system is also strengthened by increasing the production of
antibodies and cytokines [62, 69, 70].
Overall, the number of possible pathogens such as Escherichia coli and Candida, was reduced while
the growth of beneficial species of the intestinal flora (especially lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria)was
stimulated [67, 71].
3.5. Anti-oxidant activity
Several studies have demonstrated that Spirulina possesses significant anti-oxidant activity both
in vitro and in vivo. Manoj et al. [72] reported that the alcohol extract of Spirulina inhibited lipid
peroxidation more significantly (65%) than chemical anti-oxidants like -tocopherol (35%), butylated
hydroxy anisol (45%) and -carotene (48%). The water extract of Spirulina is also shown to have
more anti-oxidant effect (76%) than gallic acid (54%) and chlorogenic acid (56%). Phycocyanin also
inhibited liver microsomal lipid peroxidation. Zhi-Gang et al. [73] studied the anti-oxidant effects of
two fractions of a hot water extract of Spirulina using three systems that generate superoxide, lipid,
and hydroxyl radicals. Both fractions showed significant capacity to scavenge hydroxyl radicals (the
most highly reactive oxygen radical) but no effect on superoxide radicals. One fraction had significant
activity in scavenging lipid radicals at low concentrations.
Spirulina anti-oxidant activity was analyzed against lead acetate-induced hyperlipidemia and oxida-
tive damage in the liver and kidney of male rats. Animals were fed on a standard laboratory diet with
or without 5% Spirulina maxima in the standard laboratory diet and treated with three doses of lead
acetate (25 mg each/weekly, intraperitoneal injection) The results showed that Spirulina prevented the
lead acetate-induced significant changes on the anti-oxidant status of the liver and kidney. On the other
hand, Spirulina maxima succeeded to improve the biochemical parameters of the liver and kidney
towards the normal values of the control group [74].
4. Spirulina platensis as supplement of animal feed
Because of the nutrients and effects reported above, fishmeal, groundnut meal or soybean meal can
be partially replaced by spirulina in forage of fish, poultry, cattle and domestic animals [28, 38, 75, 76].
Fishmeal and peanut cake in a commercial diet containing both protein sources may be replaced on an
isonitrogenous basis with dried spirulina 140 and 170 g/kg (starter), and 120 and 128 g/kg (finisher)
for broiler chicks [75]. A vitamin or mineral supplement was not added to the two algal diets because
spirulina is rich in these nutrients. All the growth parameters of chicks were similar fed diets with
spirulina. Meat color was not affected by diet except for a more intensely colored meat in broilers fed
on spirulina containing diets. Spirulina administered to poultry led to shiny and more durable plumage,
which was primarily attributed to the ingredient gamma-linolenic acid. With high administration of
spirulina - if a hereditary predisposition for red lipochrome is present - a red coloring or an increase in the
red coloring of the plumage can occur. Red canaries have an enzyme which can produce canthaxanthin
from certain carotenoids (in the case of spirulina this might be zeaxanthin) by gene introduction as
a result of mating with hooded siskin. (Zeaxanthin itself, however, leads to an orange rather than to
a red coloration [77]). However, there are also small amounts of canthaxanthin directly contained in
spirulina, which are stored unchanged and could therefore also cause a red coloration. Red coloring or
orange coloring has not been observed with yellow-ground canaries; provided a dosage of 3g spirulina
50 F. Jung et al. / Spirulina platensis, a super food?
per kg of egg feed is maintained. In the above-mentioned studies on poultry up to 170 g spirulina per
kg of feed was given (e.g. [75]).
Comparative studies on poultry clearly showed that fertility of animals treated with spirulina was
clearly higher than in the comparison group [78]. Whether the growth of young animals will also be
faster is not yet certain. There are studies that prove this [79] as well as others in which this was not
found.
Spirulina has already been used several times to influence both the color of egg yolks [78] and the
flesh of poultry. It was shown that already at a dose of 40 g/kg the colour of the muscle meat (due to
the storage of zeaxanthin) clearly increased [24, 75].
5. Quality-related safety and toxicology
Spirulina is a form of cyanobacterium, of which some are known to produce toxins such as micro-
cystins, -methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), and others. Some spirulina supplements have been found
to be contaminated with microcystins, albeit at levels below the limit set by the Oregon Health Depart-
ment [80]. Microcystins can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, and in the long term, liver damage
[81].
These toxic compounds are not produced by spirulina itself but may occur as a result of contamination
of spirulina batches with other toxin-producing blue-green algae. Adverse events caused by Spirulina
are not known up to now [20]. As spirulina is considered as a dietary supplement in the U.S., no
active, industry-wide regulation of its production occurs and no enforced safety standards exist for
its production or purity. The U.S. National Institutes of Health describes spirulina supplements as
“possibly safe”, provided they are free of microcystin contamination, but “likely unsafe” (especially
for children) if contaminated [82]. Given the lack of regulatory standards in the U.S., some public-health
researchers have raised the concern that consumers cannot be certain that spirulina and other blue-green
algae supplements are free of contamination. Since the risk for contamination with toxin-producing
microalgae is higher in open pond systems than in closed bioreactors, increased quality control for
open ponds algae products must be realized. Heavy-metal contamination of spirulina supplements has
also raised concern. The Chinese State Food and Drug Administration reported that lead, mercury,
and arsenic contamination was widespread in spirulina supplements marketed in China very likely
due to water pollution. One study reported the presence of lead up to 5.1 ppm in a sample from a
commercial supplement [5]. Therefore, it is extremely important to use Spirulina only from providers
which produce under stringent and standardized conditions.
Spirulina doses of 10 to 19 grams per day over several months have been used safely. Furthermore,
there is evidence that regular consumption in several regions of Africa reaches up to 40 g [9] and no
adverse effects have been reported. Adverse effects may include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, or headache
[80].
6. Sustainability of Spirulina
With the high proportion of proteins, beta-carotene and iron, Spirulina can exactly replenish and
compensate deficits, which might occur in areas with poor and/or unbalanced animal fodder (e.g.
Sahel area in Africa, waste lands in India, China, South America). In addition, Spirulina can be
cultivated in otherwise rather barren areas without consuming valuable, clean fresh water, because it
thrives best even in highly saline water. An important aspect from the sustainability point of view.
Another benefit includes the process of photosynthesis performed by Spirulina during their growth.
In that way carbon dioxide is converted into a broad spectrum of organic substances powered by
F. Jung et al. / Spirulina platensis, a super food? 51
light energy. On a theoretical basis one kg of algae can break down up to 1.8 kilos of carbon dioxide
(CO2) while roughly one kilo of oxygen is released by the hydrolysis of water. Microalgae such as
Spirulina are characterized by a basic morphological cell structure and have evolved efficient uptake
and concentrating mechanisms of inorganic carbon. Those features make them superior to terrestrial
photosynthetic organisms in terms of CO2fixation capacity and biomass productivity.
7. Outlook
While there are a series of field reports in animals and humans, the scientific evaluation of the
different effects of spirulina on a molecular biology level on human cells is underexplored. Especially
molecular effects on the detoxifying system, on liver cells or on endothelial cells, important organs
involved in the detoxification of the organism, and on the regulation of blood pressure and anti-
coagulation, are nearly completely unknown. There are first studies showing that spirulina seems to
protect against effects of endotoxins e.g. on neural stem cells or also may have an influence on the
phagocytic activity in stimulated U937 cells [63]. In addition, Zhang reported a chemo-protective
and radio protective capability, and described a spirulina extract to be a potential adjunct to cancer
therapy [83].
Future studies will show whether spirulina can inhibit harmful effects of cytostatic agents in
endothelial- and liver cells [84, 85].
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... It is part of a particularly interesting bacterium called Spirulina platensis (or Arthrspira platensis) (A. platensis), better known under the name blue-green algae (Jourdan, 1993(Jourdan, , 2015Kulkarni and Chavan, 2020). It has many benefits such as antioxidant properties, participates in the good functioning of the immune system, and helps in weight (Gad et al., 2011). ...
... Observation of the culture medium with the naked eye is the means of monitoring the development of the culture, according to Jourdan (Jourdan 2015). It made it possible to identify possible problems such as coloring and discoloration of certain media (Jourdan 2015). ...
... Observation of the culture medium with the naked eye is the means of monitoring the development of the culture, according to Jourdan (Jourdan 2015). It made it possible to identify possible problems such as coloring and discoloration of certain media (Jourdan 2015). From Fig. 2, (Test 4) gave a healthy green-colored culture. ...
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Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a microalga that has existed for more than three billion years. It belongs to the family of cyanobacteria. It is extraordinary, rich in nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, Spirulina is rich in phycocyanin, a blue protein pigment. It can be used as a dye in food, pharmacology, and cosmetics. Our work focused first on the compatibility of the waters of M’sila region (southeast Algeria) for the cultivation of Arthrospira platensis. Then, we evaluated several methods of extracting phycocyanin to be able to determine the optimal method in terms of yield. We have succeeded in developing a new extraction method coupled with maceration in a glycerol-water mixture with a molar ratio (8/2) assisted by ultrasound with a yield of 52.93 mg/g. The excellent results obtained may be due to the salinity of the waters of the region, to the used nutrient culture medium and/or the climate change of the region. We have formed an inclusion complex between phycocyanin and β-Cyclodextrin to keep it and make it more stable. The encouraging results allow Algeria to gain a foothold on the world market as a producer of blue goldSpirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a microalga that has existed for more than three billion years. It belongs to the family of cyanobacteria. It is extraordinary, rich in nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, Spirulina is rich in phycocyanin, a blue protein pigment. It can be used as a dye in food, pharmacology, and cosmetics. Our work focused first on the compatibility of the waters of M’sila region (southeast Algeria) for the cultivation of Arthrospira platensis. Then, we evaluated several methods of extracting phycocyanin to be able to determine the optimal method in terms of yield. We have succeeded in developing a new extraction method coupled with maceration in a glycerol-water mixture with a molar ratio (8/2) assisted by ultrasound with a yield of 52.93 mg/g. The excellent results obtained may be due to the salinity of the waters of the region, to the used nutrient culture medium and/or the climate change of the region. We have formed an inclusion complex between phycocyanin and β-Cyclodextrin to keep it and make it more stable. The encouraging results allow Algeria to gain a foothold on the world market as a producer of blue gold
... The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Spirulina the "Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)" status [4]. Moreover, Spirulina is a safe ingredient when grown under controlled conditions [4,[6][7][8][9][10]. There is scientific evidence attesting to Spirulina's hypolipemic, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, neuroprotective, antianemic, anticarcinogenic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial, antiviral and immunomodulatory properties [7,[9][10][11][12]. ...
... The influence of pH on GABA production is explained by the optimal pH values for the activity of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) (pH 4.5). In fact, this enzyme in LAB is only active under acidic conditions, and when pH is above 5, GAD loses its activity [8,22]. Note that the optimal pH for fermentation by different LAB strains varies [61,86]. ...
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The aim of this study was to investigate the changes in bioactive compounds (L-glutamic acid (L-Glu), gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and biogenic amines (BAs)) during the submerged (SMF) and solid-state (SSF) fermentation of Spirulina with lactobacilli strains (Lacticaseibacillus paracasei No. 244; Levilactobacillus brevis No. 173; Leuconostoc mesenteroides No. 225; Liquorilactobacillus uvarum No. 245). The antimicrobial properties of the untreated and fermented Spirulina against a variety of pathogenic and opportunistic strains were tested. The highest concentrations of L-Glu (3841 mg/kg) and GABA (2396 mg/kg) were found after 48 h of SSF with No. 173 and No. 244 strains, respectively. The LAB strain used for biotreatment and the process conditions, as well as the interaction of these factors, had statistically significant effects on the GABA concentration in Spirulina (p ≤ 0.001, p = 0.019 and p = 0.011, respectively). In all cases, the SSF of Spirulina had a higher total BA content than SMF. Most of the fermented Spirulina showed exceptional antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus but not against the other pathogenic bacteria. The ratios of BA/GABA and BA/L-Glu ranged from 0.5 to 62 and from 0.31 to 10.7, respectively. The GABA content was correlated with putrescine, cadaverine, histamine, tyramine, spermidine and spermine contents. The L-glutamic acid concentration showed positive moderate correlations with tryptamine, putrescine, spermidine and spermine. To summarize, while high concentrations of desirable compounds are formed during fermentation, the formation of non-desirable compounds (BAs) must also be considered due to the similar mechanism of their synthesis as well as the possibility of obtaining high concentrations in the end products.
... Besides the less expensive price compared to other nitrogen source, urea also has two nitrogen atoms that make it more advantageous [15]. Spirulina contains high protein for about 55-70% which consists of all essential amino acids although has less amount of lysine, methionine, and cystine compared to other protein source from dietary products [16]. ...
... Spirulina contains 60-71% of protein [4], or 55-70% based on Jung et al. [16] compared to other sources such as dry soybeans (35%), grains (8-10%) or peanuts (25%) protein. These values make Spirulina essential for functional diet. ...
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The research aimed to determine the effect of adding different sources of nitrogen to mass culture of Spirulina platensis . Materials needed for this test was culture media volume 1000 m ³ , fertilizer were SP-36 (40 ppm), ZA (10 ppm), EDTA (5 ppm) dan FeCl 3 (1 ppm), Vitamin B-12 (0,001 ppm) and initial density of S. platensis was 10x10 ³ sinusoid/ml. The test was carried out in two steps, firstly was the addition of nitrogen source from urea with doses of 80 ppm, 150 ppm and 200 ppm. Secondly, concurrent use of the best urea concentration from first treatment and potassium nitrate addition with doses of 50 ppm, 100 ppm and 150 ppm. Spirulina platensis was cultured on mass scale for 5 days until harvest. The first test showed that the dose of urea 80 ppm gave the highest growth rate (1,15 sinusoid/day) and the fastest generation time (0,60 hours) compared to doses of 150 ppm and 200 ppm. Protein content of Spirulina platensis added with 80 ppm of urea was also the highest (58,04%) compared to 150 ppm and 200 ppm. The results from second test showed concurrent use of urea 80 ppm and potassium nitrate 100 ppm to Spirulina platensis culture gave the highest growth rate (0,45 sinusoid/day) and the fastest generation time (1,54 hours) compared to those which added with 150 ppm and 50 ppm of potassium nitrate. Protein content of S. platensis with concurrent addition of urea 80 ppm and potassium nitrate 100 ppm was also the highest at 67,30%, compared to 150 ppm and 50 ppm.
... In other words, microalgae as the primary producer could assimilate inorganic nitrogen ions into biomass, so as to avoid the tedious cycle of nitrification, denitrification, and then nitrogen fixation [24]. Among the various species, Spirulina platensis is considered as the preferred option based on the following assumptions: the protein-rich organism should be hungry for nitrogen nutrients, the filamentous form seems likely to be beneficial to algae-water separation due to the agglomeration characteristics, and the harvested biomass is expected to be valuable in the field of commercial applications such as nutrition and feed additives [25,26]. It is reported that the application of S. platensis is effective in removing high concentrations of ammonia from wastewater [27]. ...
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The application of reclaimed water has been recognized as the key approach for alleviating water scarcity, while its low quality, such as high nitrogen content, still makes people worry about the corresponding ecological risk. Herein, we investigated the feasibility of removing residual nitrate from reclaimed water by applying Spirulina platensis. It is found that 15 mg/L total nitrogen could be decreased to 1.8 mg/L in 5 days, equaling 88.1 % removal efficiency under the optimized conditions. The deficient phosphorus at 0.5–1.0 mg/L was rapidly eliminated but was already sufficient to support nitrate removal by S. platensis. The produced ammonia is generally below 0.2 mg/L, which is much lower than the standard limit of 5 mg/L. In such a nutrient deficiency condition, S. platensis could maintain biomass growth well via photosynthesis. The variation of pigments, including chlorophyll a and carotenoids, suggested a certain degree of influences of illumination intensity and phosphorus starvation on microalgae. The background cations Cu2+ and Zn2+ exhibited significant inhibition on biomass growth and nitrate removal; thus, more attention needs to be paid to the further application of microalgae in reclaimed water. Our results demonstrated that cultivation of S. platensis should be a very promising solution to improve the quality of reclaimed water by efficiently removing nitrate and producing biomass.
... Long-chain FA are predominant compounds in Spirulina (mainly palmitic acid and gamma-linoleic acid) [61,62]. However, other studies reported higher contents of palmitic (46%), oleic (8%) and linoleic (12%) acids in Spirulina and lower contents of gamma-linoleic acid (20%) and stearic acid (1%) [63]. One of the most significant polyunsaturated FA is gamma-linoleic acid [62,64]. ...
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The aim of this study was to select a lactic acid bacteria (LAB) strain for bio-conversion of Spirulina, a cyanobacteria (“blue-green algae”), into an ingredient with a high concentration of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) for human and animal nutrition. For this purpose, ten different LAB strains and two different fermentation conditions (SMF (submerged) and SSF (solid state fermentation)) were tested. In addition, the concentrations of fatty acids (FA) and biogenic amines (BA) in Spirulina samples were evaluated. It was established that Spirulina is a suitable substrate for fermentation, and the lowest pH value (4.10) was obtained in the 48 h SSF with Levilactobacillus brevis. The main FA in Spirulina were methyl palmitate, methyl linoleate and gamma-linolenic acid methyl ester. Fermentation conditions were a key factor toward glutamic acid concentration in Spirulina, and the highest concentration of GABA (2395.9 mg/kg) was found in 48 h SSF with Lacticaseibacillus paracasei samples. However, a significant correlation was found between BA and GABA concentrations, and the main BA in fermented Spirulina samples were putrescine and spermidine. Finally, the samples in which the highest GABA concentrations were found also displayed the highest content of BA. For this reason, not only the concentration of functional compounds in the end-product must be controlled, but also non-desirable substances, because both of these compounds are produced through similar metabolic pathways of the decarboxylation of amino acids.
... Spirulina belongs to the phylum cyanobacteria, and the term covers two species of microalgae-Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima. Both are used in the production of food and dietary supplements [3,4]. Spirulina is capable of oxygenic photosynthesis and reproduces asexually by binary fission until it reaches its mature status [5]. ...
Article
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Spirulina is a microalga cultivated in many countries. It is a source of valuable protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants and elements. We have not found studies that address the effect of supplement form or cultivation method on the mineral content of spirulina supplements. The aim of this study was to determine whether supplement form (tablet and powder) and cultivation method (organic and conventional) of spirulina have a bearing on the mineral nutrients content. Such an approach accounts for the innovation of our research. The material used in the study was spirulina in tablets and powder form, marketed as a dietary supplement. Samples were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). In turn, selenium (Se) content was determined by spectrofluorimetry. Overall, in terms of mean values, the most abundant mineral in spirulina supplements was phosphorus (P) (15,149 mg/kg) and the least abundant was Se (0.31 mg/kg). Our findings show that both supplement form and cultivation method affect the mineral content of spirulina. Supplements in powder form had a significantly higher content of important elements, such as iron (Fe) (673 mg/kg), magnesium (Mg) (4151 mg/kg) and potassium (K) (16,686 mg/kg), while at the same time containing significantly less sodium (Na) (9868 mg/kg). In terms of the cultivation method, organic spirulina supplements turned out to be a richer dietary source of Fe (703 mg/kg) and K (14,893 mg/kg). In turn, conventionally grown supplements had higher contents of calcium (Ca) (11,269 mg/kg), phosphorus (P) (16,314 mg/kg) and strontium (Sr) (47 mg/kg). Spirulina can therefore be a valuable addition to the daily diet, helping people to achieve the required intake of micronutrients.
... On this regard, the dried biomass of spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) can represent an equally valid supplement for the insect growth substrate because of its nutritional values [44,45]. In fact, spirulina, the most commonly cultured cyanobacteria produced at commercial scale [46], shows a high content of PUFAs for fish requirement [47,48]. Furthermore, spirulina contains several compounds such as vitamins, minerals, tocopherols, and carotenoids which can have a positive antioxidant effect on fish [49][50][51]. ...
Article
Full-text available
In the present study, an organic substrate (coffee silverskin) enriched with spirulina (Arthrospira platensis; 15% w/w), as a source of lipids and bioactive molecules, was used to rear the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) prepupae. Three grossly isonitrogenous, isoproteic, isolipidic and isoenergetic experimental diets for rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) juveniles were then produced: a control diet (HM0) mostly including fish meal and fish oil, and two other test diets named HM3 and HM20, in which 3 or 20% of the marine ingredients were substituted with full fat black soldier fly prepupae meal (HM), respectively. Experimental diets were provided for 6 weeks, and at the end of the trial the physiological responses and marketable traits of the fish were investigated using a multidisciplinary approach. Generally, all test diets were well accepted, and fish growth, gut and liver health status, and marketable characteristics were not impaired by the experimental diets. However, an increased immuno-related gene expression along with a slight reduction of fillet redness and yellowness was evident in fish from the HM20 group.
... Spirulina is a blue-green algae belonging to the cyanobacteria class, which is one of the most cultivated microalgae in the world and can be used as a food and dietary supplement ( Figure 1). Spirulina platensis, a multicellular photosynthetic prokaryote, was defined as a nutritious food by the United Nations World Food Conference due to its higher protein, vitamin, and mineral content than many other foods (Jung et al. 2019). Spirulina has a protein content of about 71% and also contains many beneficial products such as high amounts of carotenoids, essential fatty acids, B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc (Shahapurkar et al. 2022). ...
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... by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the European Space Agency (Jung et al. 2019;Ciani et al. 2021;Ramírez-Rodrigues et al. 2021;Soni et al. 2021). With this, there was a burst of activity relating to the production of spirulina biomass as specialised industries for producing health food, food additives, animal feed, biofertilizers, and assorted natural products have emerged (Vonshak 1997). ...
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Technical Report
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