Neuroprotective effect

Neuroprotection may be defined as a mechanism and strategy used in order to protect neuronal cells against injury, apoptosis, dysfunction, and degeneration in the central nervous system (CNS) by limiting neuronal dysfunction or death after CNS injury (Tucci and Bagetta, 2008; Zarros, 2009). Many categories of natural and synthetic compounds have been reported to possess neuroprotective activities. However, these synthetic neuroprotective agents are believed to have certain side effects such as dry mouth, tiredness, drowsiness, anxiety or nervousness, difficulty to balance, etc. (Narang et al., 2008; Pangestuti and Kim, 2010). Hence, scientists have studied natural bioactive compounds, which can act as neuroprotective agents. Several scientific studies have provided insight into neuroprotective properties of marine algae-derived NPs (Pangestuti and Kim, 2011). Okuzumi et al. (1990) found that fucoxanthin isolated from H. fusiformis inhibited N-myc expression and cell cycle progression of GOT0 cells, a human neuroblastoma cell line. Fucoxanthin at a concentration of 10 mg/ml reduced the growth rate of GOT0 cells to 38%, but its exact mechanisms of action are not yet completely understood.

Ikeda et al. (2003) recently found that wakame was able to attenuate the development of hypertension and its related diseases in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP). Further, they isolated fucoxan-thin from wakame and showed that fucoxanthin amazingly attenuated cell damage in cortical neurons during hypoxia and oxygen reperfusion (Khodosevich and Monyer, 2010). Since ROS generation is considered to occur after hypoxia and reoxygenation, whereby free radicals damage neurons, it may be assumed that neuroprotective activity of fucoxanthin is mainly based on their scavenging activity.

Neurite outgrowths are fundamental neuronal features which play an important role in neuronal development during embryogenesis and in the adult brain. Pheophytin a and its analog, vitamin B12 derived from S. fulvellum, have been reported to promote neurite outgrowth in phaeo-chromocytoma (PC12) cells (Ina and Kamei, 2006; Ina et al., 2007). Neurite outgrowth promoting activity of pheophytin a has been reported to be closely related to their low molecular weight. The rationale for this is that low molecular weight pheophytin a may incorporate into the cells more efficiently and therefore promote neurite outgrowth effectively.

Based on several findings, it may be concluded that NPs are a valuable source of neuroprotective agents and could be introduced for the preparation of novel functional ingredients in functional foods and pharmaceuticals as a good approach for the treatment and or prevention of neurodegenerative disease. Further, it can be suggested that NPs are an alternative source to synthetic ingredients that can contribute in neuroprotection. Until now, neuroprotective activities of NPs have been observed in vitro. Therefore, further researches are needed in order to investigate NPs neuroprotective activities in vivo and in human subject.

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