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Antioxidant properties of novel phycocyanin extract from the blue-green alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae

Life Sciences 75 (2004) 2353-2362

Author(s): Serena Benedetti, Francesca Benvenuti, Silvia Pagliarani, Sonia Francogli, Stefano Scoglio, Franco Canestrari


Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is a fresh water unicellular blue-green alga (cyanophyra) rich in phycocyanin (PC), a photosynthetic pigment with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of a novel natural extract from AFA enriched with PC to project normal human erythrocytes and plasma samples against oxidative damage in vitro. In red blood cells, oxidative hemolysis and lipid peroxidation induced by the aqueous peroxyl radical generator [2, 2'-Azobis (2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride, AAPH] were significantly lowered by the AFA extract in a time- and dose-dependent manner; at the same time, the depletion of cytosolic glutathione was delayed. In plasma samples, the natural extract inhibited the extent of lipid oxidation induced by the pro-oxidant agent cupric chloride (CuC12); a concomitant increase of plasma resistance to oxidation was observed as evaluated by conjugated diene formation.

The involvement of PC in the antioxidant protection of the APA extract against the oxidative damage was demonstrated by investigating the spectra changes of PC induced by AAPH or CuC12. The incubation of the extract with the oxidizing agents led to a significant decrease in the absorption of PC at 620 nm accompanied with disappearance of it blue color, thus indicating a rapid oxidation of the protein. In the light of these in vitro results, the potential clinical applications of this natural compound are under investigation.

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