Microalgae as Potential Sources of Bioactive Compounds for Functional Foods and Pharmaceuticals

Applied Sciences

Mélanie Silva, Farah Kamberovic, Sisay Tesema Uota, Ismael-Mohammed Kovan, Carla S. B. Viegas, Dina C. Simes, Katkam N. Gangadhar, João Varela and Luísa Barreira

Microalgae are an untapped source of bioactive compounds with various biotechnological applications. Several species are industrially produced and commercialized for the feed or cosmetic industries, however, other applications in the functional food and pharmaceutical markets can be foreseen. In this study, nine industrial/commercial species were evaluated for in vitro antioxidant, calcium-chelating, anti-tumoral, and anti-inflammatory activities. The most promising extracts were fractionated yielding several promising fractions namely, of Tetraselmis striata CTP4 with anti-inflammatory activity (99.0 ± 0.8% reduction in TNF-α production in LPS stimulated human macrophages at 50 µg/mL), of Phaeodactylum Tricornutum with cytotoxicity towards cancerous cell lines (IC50 = 22.3 ± 1.8 μg/mL and 27.5 ± 1.6 μg/mL for THP-1 and HepG2, respectively) and of Porphyridium sp. and Skeletonema sp. with good chelating activity for iron, copper and calcium (IC50 = 0.047, 0.272, 0.0663 mg/mL and IC50 = 0.055, 0.240, 0.0850 mg/mL, respectively). These fractions were chemically characterized by GC–MS after derivatization and in all, fatty acids at various degrees of unsaturation were the most abundant compounds. Some of the species under study proved to be potentially valuable sources of antioxidant, metal chelators, anti-tumoral and anti-inflammatory compounds with possible application in the functional food and pharmaceutical industries.

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