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Endotoxin & Liver | Bioactives Research II

In our last research post, we shared research into Hibiscus, Burdock, and Selenium. This time we're highlighting Spirulina, Chlorella, Milk Thistle, Dandelion and Artichoke.

Organic Spirulina

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a cyanobacterium alga with a high protein content, vitamins, especially provitamin A (β-carotenes), and minerals, especially iron. It is also rich in phenolic acids, tocopherols and γ-linolenic acid  (1). Phycocyanins in spirulina have been reported to exhibit a variety of pharmacological properties; indeed, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and hepatoprotective effects have been experimentally attributed to phycocyanins.

Phycocyanins have been evaluated in many experimental models of inflammation and demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects in a dose-dependent fashion. Amongst these, phycocyanins reduced oedema, histamine release, myeloperoxidase activity and levels of prostaglandin (PGE(2)) and leukotriene (LTB(4)) in inflamed tissues. These anti-inflammatory effects have been attributed to scavenging properties toward oxygen reactive species (ROS) and its inhibitory effects on cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) activity and histamine release from mast cells (2).

Spirulina has also been shown to modulate the gut microbiota, specifically by reducing Gram-negative (LPS-producing) bacteria (3, 4). In LPS-induced models of inflammation, both phycocyanins and spirulina have been shown to attenuate the inflammatory response. Phycocyanin reduced the serum levels of TNF-a after LPS administration (2), while spirulina reduced markers of inflammation and partially normalised IL-1B and the Nrf2 system after LPS exposure (5, 6). Spirulina is also able to reduce the pro-inflammatory effects of fatty liver disease (7).

Organic Chlorella

Chlorella vulgaris, another microalga, has been shown to have similar anti-inflammatory properties to spirulina (8).

Chlorella has been shown to have an LPS-blocking effect at the TLR4, by competitively binding to the receptors, therefore helping to reduce the resultant inflammatory cascade (9). Spirulina is also thought to have a similar mechanism of action on LPS via TLR4 competitive binding.

Milk Thistle, Dandelion & Artichoke
These hepatoprotective, choleretic, antioxidant and immunomodulatory herbs have been added to promote bile flow for LPS clearance, as well as being protective of LPS-induced inflammation.
Milk Thistle
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is well-known for its hepatoprotective properties, especially conferred by the phytochemical silymarin and its metabolites (10). Silymarin possesses hepatoprotective, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifibrotic properties (11). Oral administration has been shown to attenuate nitric oxide production by macrophages, as well as iNOS mRNA in LPS-treated mice, suggesting silymarin inhibits this inflammatory cascade by inhibiting NF-Kb activation, thus attenuating damage caused by LPS (11).
Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a common herbal medicine in Europe, traditionally used as a remedy to treat hepato-biliary disease and dyspepsia. It has been shown to possess antioxidant, choleretic, hepatoprotective, bile-enhancing and lipid-lowering effects, which corresponds with its historical use (12). It has been shown to increase SOD, catalase, glutathione, and glutathione peroxidase levels in the liver, and decrease malondialdehyde levels in LPS-induced liver diseases (13).
Dandelion Root
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a well-known herb traditionally used for its choleretic, diuretic, antirheumatic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown it to possess antioxidant, anti-diabetic and immune-modulating activities in response to LPS-induced conditions (14, 15).

  1. Karkos PD, Leong SC, Karkos CD, Sivaji N, Assimakopoulos DA. Spirulina in clinical practice: Evidence-based human applications. Evidence-based Complement Altern Med. 2011;2011:4–7.
  2. González R, Ledón N, Remirez D, Rimbau V. C-phycocyanin: a biliprotein with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2003 Jun;4(3):207-16.
  3. Neyrinck AM, Taminiau B, Walgrave H, Daube G, Cani PD, Bindels LB, et al. Spirulina protects against hepatic inflammation in aging: An effect related to the modulation of the gut microbiota? Nutrients. 2017;9(6).
  4. Finamore A, Palmery M, Bensehaila S, Peluso I. Antioxidant, Immunomodulating, and Microbial-Modulating Activities of the Sustainable and Ecofriendly Spirulina. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017
  5. Patil J, Matte A, Nissbrandt H, Mallard C, Sandberg M. Sustained effects of neonatal systemic lipopolysaccharide on IL-1β and Nrf2 in adult rat substantia nigra are partly normalized by a spirulina-enriched diet. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2017;23(4):250–9.
  6. Patil J, Matte A, Mallard C, Sandberg M. Spirulina diet to lactating mothers protects the antioxidant system and reduces inflammation in post-natal brain after systemic inflammation. Nutr Neurosci. 2018;21(1):59–69.
  7. Pham TX, Lee Y, Bae M, Hu S, Kang H, Kim M-B, et al. Spirulina supplementation in a mouse model of diet-induced liver fibrosis reduced the pro-inflammatory response of splenocytes. Br J Nutr. 2019;1–8.
  8. Sibi G, Rabina S. Inhibition of Pro-inflammatory Mediators and Cytokines by Chlorella Vulgaris Extracts. Pharmacognosy Res [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2019 Apr 17];8(2):118–22.
  9. Cherng J, Liu C, Shen C, Lin H, Shih F. Beneficial effects of Chlorella-11 peptide on blocking LPS-induced macrophage activation and alleviating thermal injury-induced inflammation in rats. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol [Internet]. 2009;23(3):811-20. Bijak M. Silybin, a Major Bioactive Component of Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum L. Gaernt.)—Chemistry, Bioavailability, and Metabolism. Molecules. 2017;22(11):1–11.
  10. Abenavoli L, Capasso R, Milic N, Capasso F. Milk Thistle in Liver Disease : Past, Present , Future. Phyther Res. 2011;1432(April):1423–32.
  11. Salem M Ben, Affes H, Ksouda K, Dhouibi R, Sahnoun Z, Hammami S, et al. Pharmacological Studies of Artichoke Leaf Extract and Their Health Benefits. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2015;70(4):441–53.
  12. Salekzamani S, Ebrahimi-Mameghani M, Rezazadeh K. The antioxidant activity of artichoke (Cynara scolymus): A systematic review and meta-analysis of animal studies. Phyther Res. 2019;33(1):55–71.
  13. González-Castejón M, Visioli F, Rodriguez-Casado A. Diverse biological activities of dandelion. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(9):534–47.
  14. Wirngo FE, Lambert MN, Jeppesen PB. The physiological effects of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) in type 2 diabetes. Rev Diabet Stud. 2016;13(2–3):113–31.

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