Could seaweed bioactive help fight food allergies?

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

Could seaweed bioactive help fight food allergies?

Related tags: Allergy

Bioactives found in a certain form of commercial red algae could help to counter symptoms of food allergies, say researchers.

The new study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, ​builds on previous research suggesting that certain seaweed varieties contain polysaccharides with anti-asthmatic and anti-allergy effects by testing whether similar molecules in Gracilaria lemaneiformis​, a commercial variety of red algae, might have similar properties.

Led by Guang-Ming Liu from Jimei University in China, the research team isolated polysaccharides from G. lemaneiformis​ and fed them to a group of mice sensitive to tropomyosin, a protein that is a major shellfish allergen, while another group of mice, also sensitive to tropomyosin, did not get the polysaccharides.

When given the allergen, Liu and colleagues found that allergy symptoms in the mice given the red algae bioactive were reduced compared to the untreated animals.

They concluded that the purified sulfate polysaccharide from Gracilaria lemaneiformis​ (referred to as GLSP) had anti-allergenic effects on the mice tested by reducing the expression of allergy-related immune markers invluding IgE and IgG1.

“On the basis of the in vivo and in vitro results, we suggested that GLSP possess an anti-food allergic activity,”​ said the Chinese team.

“GLSP may provide insight into the preventive of food allergy induced-anaphylaxis and may be used as a functional food component to prevent food allergic diseases,”​ they suggested.

Anti-allergenic potential

Liu and colleagues noted that while seaweed has long been a staple food in many Asian countries it has also recently caught on as a snack food in Western countries, where it is seen as a new and healthy snack alternative to chips.

“During the past decade, active ingredients from marine algae have been shown to play an important role in the pharmaceutical industry in the development of novel drugs against allergic disorders,”​ noted the team.

The Chinese team used a patented methodology (Patent No.: 201310424569.6) to isolate purified sulfated polysaccharide from Gracilaria lemaneiformis​.

Lab-based tests using BALB/c mice, RBL-2H3, and KU812 cells were then used for verifying the anti food allergic activity of GLSP.

Research in mice then showed that GLSP was able to alleviate allergy symptoms, by reducing TM-specific IgE and IgG1, and suppressing Th2 cell polarization, and promoting the function of regulatory T (Treg) cells.

The present data suggested that GLSP had potent effects on the attenuation of allergic diseases,”​ said the team – noting that GLSP was responsible for the reduction in the production of serum mMCP-1 and histamine in GLSP-preventive mice.

Furthermore, they noted that GLSP blocked the activation of KU812 via suppression of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), which are known to play an important role in anaphylactic reactions in humans.

“In conclusion, immunosuppression as well as the reduction in the level of p38 MAPK may contribute to GLSP’s putative activity against food allergy,”​ Lui and colleagues said – noting that GLSP may be used as a functional food component for people with food allergy.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Volume 64, Number 22, Pages 4536–4544, doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b01086
Anti-Food Allergic Activity of Sulfated Polysaccharide from Gracilaria lemaneiformis is Dependent on Immunosuppression and Inhibition of p38 MAPK”
Authors: Qing-Mei Liu, et al

Related topics: Nutrition, Functional foods and drinks

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