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Products with anti-inflammatory activity obtained from microalgas

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Researchers of the University of Cadiz, in collaboration with the University of Seville, the Technological Institute of the Canary Islands and the company 'Biotecnología de Microalgas' have obtained an interesting new product with anti-inflammatory properties, based on the use of monohydroxilated fatty acids originating from microalgas.

Description

Oxylipins are a set of very diverse molecules originating from the oxidation of poly-unsaturated fatty acids; these acids are found in animals, plants, algae, bacteria and fungi, where they carry out important biological activities.

The fatty acids that incorporate in their structure one or several hydroxyl groups (hydroxylated fatty acids, or hydroxyacids) constitute one type of oxylipin. Furthermore, particular mono-, di- or tri-hydroxilated acids derived from DHA and from EPA possess a powerful anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory activity, and are considered responsible for some of the beneficial effects of the Omega-3 fatty acids - docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

The researchers have isolated two specific oxylipins, the acid 13-HOTE, originating from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and the acid 13-HODE, originating from the oxidation of linoleic acid (LA), from certain species of microalgas. These organisms present sufficient content in these compounds to make them potential candidates for commercial exploitation.

Although these compounds present a general anti-inflammatory activity, the researchers have found that they present a specific anti-inflammatory effect in intestinal inflammatory disease, not previously described until now.

Another of the advantages of this discovery is the natural origin of these compounds. Thus, the employment of microalgas as the natural source of these oxylipins would represent a series of advantages with respect to their production. The more notable of these advantages are the short generation times, the possibility of their industrial cultivation and the presence of these compounds in useful quantities that can be isolated in particular species of microalgas.

Advantages

• This discovery represents an entirely novel treatment for intestinal inflammatory disease, since no previous reference has been made to the utilisation of either 13-HOTE or 13-HODE acid as an anti-inflammatory agent in such diseases.

• These compounds are found in particular species of microalgas in sufficient concentrations to make their exploitation feasible on an industrial scale.

• Given their natural origin, they can be offered as 'nutraceutical' rather than pharmaceutical treatments.

• It should be possible to obtain these products from the industrial cultivation of microalgas, for which proven technology already exists.

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