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«Did you know?» n°4

Marine polysaccharides: the bioactive structures of algae

💡What are polysaccharides (PS)?

Polymers of carbohydrate: osidic bonds link together several oses (like cellulose and amidon). In algae, some PS are sulfated, and some are secreted especially in microalgae, called exopolysaccharides (EPS).

➡️ In algae 🌱🧪 we find:

  👉 The fucoidans, laminarans and galactofucans in Phaeophycae (brown algae)

  👉 The carrageenans, porphyran, agaroids, mannans in Rhodophycae (red algae)

  👉 The ulvans, rhamnans, galactans in Chlorophycae (green algae)

💡Why are they «bioactive»?

Because they possess incredible properties of interest in the medical and pharmaceutical fields:

  ✅ Anticoagulant

  ✅ Anti-inflammatory

  ✅ Immunomodulators

  ✅ Antinociceptive (inhibits sensitivity to pain)

  ✅ Antimicrobial

  ✅ Antioxidant

  ✅ Antitumor

💡In addition to their role as a food ingredient for some 🍰, polysaccharides have therefore multiple uses in medicine🩺!

Such as:

  🧫 Tissue regeneration and engineering

  🤕 Wound healing and dressing

  😷 Glues for surgical openings

  🔨 Nanofibers and scaffold

  💊 Drug carriers

  🦴 Lubricants for bone joints

So far, PS and their uses were further explored in macroalgae, but PS from microalgae revealed to be very promising as well. 

To precisely depict relations between PS structures and their biological activity is still a challenging task though! For example, the direct effect of the sulfate content on the anticoagulation activity in a brown seaweed has already been demonstrated 🙂


For more details:

✏️ De Jesus Raposo, M.F. et al.: Marine Polysaccharides from Algae with Potential Biomedical Applications, Marine Drugs, 2015, doi:10.3390/md13052967 

✏️ Jiao, G. et al.: Chemical Structures and Bioactivities of Sulfated Polysaccharides from Marine Algae, Marine Drugs, 2011. doi:10.3390/md9020196

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