Microalgae As Potential Antiasthmatic Agents

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Blue-green algae known as cyanobacteria have shown antioxidant, neu-roprotective, cytoprotective, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory activities. Edible blue-green algae, such as Spirulina and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, are currently marketed as dietary supplements with various health claims for immune function, inflammation, heart disease, and general well-being. Nostoc commune, a blue-green edible microalga, has been used as a food delicacy or herbal medicine in Asian, African, and South American countries for centuries (Cao, 1998).

It has been used as potential source to treat various diseases in Chinese medicine and has been suggested that it can be used to treat a variety of diseases including inflammation, night blindness, digestion, and burns (Qui et al., 2002). Depending on the variety of usages of this important microalga, Park et al. (2008) have shown that the lipid extract from N. commune var. sphaeroids represses the expression of several genes involved in the proinflammatory responses to inflammatory stimuli. Fatty acid mixture significantly reduced RNA abundance of TNF-a and COX-2. Further, DNA binding activity was also evaluated as NF-kB is the major regulator of proinflammatory gene expression and revealed that DNA binding activity of NF-kB significantly reduced by the treatment with N. commune lipid extract. Evaluation of dialyzed Chlorella pyrenoidosa extract (DCPE) on mast cell mediator release in vitro and overalbumin-induced airway inflammation in vivo revealed that in vitro treatment of mouse bone marrow-derived mast cells with DCPE for 18 h significantly inhibited antigen (trinitrophenyl-BSA)-induced IL-5 production (Kralovec et al., 2005). In vivo, treatment of mice with DCPE during ovalbumin sensitization and stimulation process significantly reduced eosinophil and neutrophil infiltration in the airways. Further, unicellular Chlorella pyrenoidosa is used as a food supplement (Kay, 1991). It is a valuable source of nutrients and low in cellulose and exhibits a remarkable diversity of physiological and biochemical properties. Further, the beneficial effects of Chlorella preparations include the enhancement of immune functions and control of ulcerative colitis and hypertension (Merchant and Andre, 2001; Merchant et al., 2002).

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