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Arch Toxicol. 2016 Aug;90(8):1817-40. doi: 10.1007/s00204-016-1744-5. Epub 2016 Jun 3.

The antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory activities of Spirulina: an overview.

Author information

1
College of Life Science, Yangtze University, Jingzhou, 434025, Hubei, China. wqh212@hotmail.com.
2
Institute of Biomedicine, Yangtze University, Jingzhou, 434025, Hubei, China. wqh212@hotmail.com.
3
Center for Basic and Applied Research, Faculty of Informatics and Management, University of Hradec Kralove, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. wqh212@hotmail.com.
4
Medical School, Yangtze University, Jingzhou, 434025, Hubei, China.
5
Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Grigore T. Popa, Iasi, Romania.
6
Center for Basic and Applied Research, Faculty of Informatics and Management, University of Hradec Kralove, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.
7
Hunan Engineering and Research Center of Animal and Poultry Science, Key Laboratory of Agro-ecological Processes in Subtropical Region, Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changsha, China.
8
Center for Basic and Applied Research, Faculty of Informatics and Management, University of Hradec Kralove, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. kamil.kuca@fnhk.cz.
9
Biomedical Research Center, University Hospital Hradec Kralove, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. kamil.kuca@fnhk.cz.

Abstract

Spirulina is a species of filamentous cyanobacteria that has long been used as a food supplement. In particular, Spirulina platensis and Spirulina maxima are the most important. Thanks to a high protein and vitamin content, Spirulina is used as a nutraceutical food supplement, although its other potential health benefits have attracted much attention. Oxidative stress and dysfunctional immunity cause many diseases in humans, including atherosclerosis, cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure, and hypertension. Thus, the antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory activities of these microalgae may play an important role in human health. Here, we discuss the antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory activities of Spirulina in both animals and humans, along with the underlying mechanisms. In addition, its commercial and regulatory status in different countries is discussed as well. Spirulina activates cellular antioxidant enzymes, inhibits lipid peroxidation and DNA damage, scavenges free radicals, and increases the activity of superoxide dismutase and catalase. Notably, there appears to be a threshold level above which Spirulina will taper off the antioxidant activity. Clinical trials show that Spirulina prevents skeletal muscle damage under conditions of exercise-induced oxidative stress and can stimulate the production of antibodies and up- or downregulate the expression of cytokine-encoding genes to induce immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory responses. The molecular mechanism(s) by which Spirulina induces these activities is unclear, but phycocyanin and β-carotene are important molecules. Moreover, Spirulina effectively regulates the ERK1/2, JNK, p38, and IκB pathways. This review provides new insight into the potential therapeutic applications of Spirulina and may provide new ideas for future studies.

KEYWORDS:

Anti-inflammatory; Antioxidant; Immunomodulation; Mechanism of action; Phycocyanin; Spirulina

PMID:
27259333
DOI:
10.1007/s00204-016-1744-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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