Spirulina Extract Offers Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits?


A new in vitro study explores the bioactive properties of Cerule’s Cyactiv algae ingredient.

Microalgae is all the rage this year, and a new spirulina ingredient is continuing the momentum. Researchers in Oregon recently published the results of an in vitro study into the bioactive properties of Cyactiv, an Arthrospira platensis extract launched last fall by Cerule (Klamath Falls, Oregon). The study highlights the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the blue-green algae.

Cyactiv offers a high concentration of phycocyanin (PC) as well as non-PC compounds such as polysachrides, amino acids, and proteins. Previous human studies have spoken to Cyactiv’s potential to alleviate joint and muscle discomfort, but the current in vitro study specifically investigated the extract’s antioxidant properties, bioprotection, anti-inflammatory activity, and effect on blood clotting.

Both the PC and non-PC compounds were found to contribute to the antioxidant capacity of Cyactiv, as determined by parallel testing in the Folin-Ciocalteu assay and in the cellular antioxidant protection bioassay. Cyactiv was also found to synergistically inhibit the action of inflammatory enzymes COX-2 and Lipoxygenase, as well as inhibit the reactive oxygen species of polymorphonuclear cells from healthy human donors.

Previous studies have noted similar biological activity from PC, but this study’s findings are remarkable for discovering that both PC and non-PC compounds may produce these healthful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

“The data reported in this study are, to our knowledge, the first to specifically document complementary biological effects by non-PC compounds in the aqueous extract,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers also challenged the hypothesis of previous studies that phycocyanin may have blood-thinning properties. Instead, the researchers suggested the previous findings on blood platelets may be due to “a downstream effect of initial anti-inflammatory events.” They found that the presence of phycocyanin actually led to stronger clot formation in an euglobulin assay, with subsequent natural fibrinolytic dissolution of the clot being unaffected.

Further studies are likely necessary to explore the observed blood clotting phenomenon, but the researchers were able to conclude that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action of Cyactiv was enhanced by the synergistic effects of both PC and non-PC compounds.

“This and other studies show that supplementation with Cyactiv can lead to a clinically meaningful effect as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory alternative,” says Cassandra Drapeau, product manager, Cerule. “The natural synergy of the phycocyanin and non-phycocyanin compounds help calm and balance recurring inflammation without the known side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”


Jensen GS et al. “Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of an aqueous cyanophyta extract derived from Arthrospira platensis: contribution to bioactivities by the non-phycocyanin aqueous fraction.” Journal of Medicinal Food, vol. 18, no. 5 (April, 2015): 535-541.


Read more:

2015 Ingredients to Watch: Algae

Liquid Chlorella Extract Aimed at Functional Foods and Beverages


Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine


Photo © iStockphoto.com/buccaneership

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