Research continues to explore potential roles for fucoidan extracts in cardiovascular health. The ingestion of certain fucoidans has shown potential to regulate serum lipids and cholesterols, which are important factors in the development of vascular diseases. A recent human clinical study, using a polyphenol-rich fucoidan complex produced by Marinova, recorded a statistically significant increase in the ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL, over a 12 week period (Murray, 2021). The potential of fucoidans to reduce cardiovascular damage has been postulated to be linked with the blocking of scavenger receptors on macrophages, which may reduce LDL cholesterol uptake into artery walls (Park, 2016). Research in in vitro and animal models, as outlined below, has also explored the role that fucoidan extracts may have when developed further for applications in blood pressure, coagulation and tissue vascularisation.
In an animal model, a fucoidan extract was shown to assist in the reactivation of tissue vascularisation after injury and prevent post-inflammatory tissue damage after ischemic events (Sarlon, 2012; Fitton, 2011). The type of stem cells that can make new vessels are prone to senescence (or ageing) when cultured. In a separate ex vivo study, a fucoidan was shown to reverse the ageing of endothelial colony forming cells during culture, which has been linked to potential uses in revascularisation (Lee, 2015).
Fucoidans have been reported to have a heparin-like effect in normal blood and reduce clotting in ex vivo studies, acting via a blood clotting protein called anti-thrombin III (Irhimeh, 2009). However, when ingested at high levels, fucoidans have been reported to not move blood clotting parameters out of the normal range. In haemophiliac blood, where factors in the clotting cascade are missing, fucoidans have been studied for their potential to act as a bridge in the cascade to allow a normal coagulation response. Research in in vitro models has reported a minimum requirement for the structure and size of fucoidan extracts to be able to act as a useful coagulation aid for people with clotting disorders (Zhang, 2014).
High blood pressure is a common feature of inflammatory disease. It poses potentially serious health consequences, particularly in ageing populations. It has been shown that when a population of overweight people took dietary fucoidan extracts daily over three months, a decrease in blood pressure was observed (Hernandez-Corona, 2014). In addition to a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure, this study also showed a significant reduction in low-density cholesterol (LDL-C).