Small amount, big effects: A dose of fucoidan can affect gene expression, says Australian study

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A dose of fucoidan can affect gene expression, according to an Australian study. ©Getty Images
A dose of fucoidan can affect gene expression, according to an Australian study. ©Getty Images

Related tags fucoidan Australia Gene

Just a single dose Undaria pinnatifida fucoidan (UPF) is able to affect gene expression related to fundamental cellular processes, an Australian study – believed to be the first of its kind – has shown.

Fucoidan belongs to a class of fucose-rich sulphated polysaccharides derived from brown macroalgae. It has been acknowledged for its anti-cancer benefits.

According to the study published in Marine Drugs, ​a single dose of fucoidan can bring about changes in the composition of micro RNAs (miRNA).

The miRNAs are small molecules that regulate gene expression. They have been widely studied as biomarkers for a wide range of health indications, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and inflammation.

The study, a placebo-controlled double-blind trial, was funded by Australian biotechnology firm Marinova and the Australian Department of Industry and Innovation.

It involved 17 healthy male volunteers age 25 to 65 who consumed either the placebo or two capsules of Maritech fucoidan (500mg/capsule) manufactured by Marinova.  

Their blood samples were taken right before they took the capsules and 24 hours later to analyse their miRNA composition.  

The results showed that there were differences in the number and types of miRNAs that were up-regulated and down-regulated in the two groups. 

In the placebo group, there were 19 miRNAs up-regulated and 44 down-regulated, while that of the treatment group had 15 miRNAs up-regulated and 38 down-regulated.

Analysis showed that there was only one miRNA (has-miR-34b) that was significantly up-regulated in both groups. Another five miRNAs were found to be down-regulated in both groups.

Cellular pathways affected

Using the TALOS software, the researchers found that 31 cellular pathways that have been influenced by the fucoidan supplementation.

Some of the pathways are related to circadian rhythm and renal cancer – both of which were not previously associated with fucoidan supplementation.

As such, the researchers said that if such interactions could be confirmed by future studies in more detail, this might give rise to novel and unexpected applications of dietary fucoidan supplements.

“This new clinical research not only confirms previous data demonstrating that fucoidan has beneficial effects on immunity, cancer cells, inflammation and neurological function, but provides insight into new pathways not formerly associated with fucoidan,”​ said co-author of the paper and chief scientist at Marinova, Dr Helen Fitton.

“These are exciting results that further increase the potential for fucoidan to be utilised in a wider range of therapeutic treatments,”​ she added.

The study also showed that fucoidan supplementation could affect the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signalling pathway, which supports the previously documented antidepressant effects of fucoidan.

On the other hand, the researchers also acknowledged that the molecular mechanism by which miRNA levels were altered in healthy individuals remained unknown and that would require systematic studies in the future.


Source: Marine Drugs

Micro RNA Expression after Ingestion of Fucoidan; A Clinical Study

DOI: 10.3390/md18030143

Authors: Gueven, et al​ 

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