Research on fucoidan extracts has extended into a range of ageing related processes. Fucoidans have been studied for their effects on immune and inflammation responses, gut and digestive health, and for their effects on the visible signs of ageing such as wrinkles and age spots. Research has also recently broadened into neuroprotective properties in animal models.
Sirtuin-1 (SIRT1) is a protein considered to be a key marker for cell ageing. It is believed to play important roles in longevity and in the reduction of age-related diseases (Serravallo, 2013). SIRT1 is associated with genes that coordinate and optimise the functions of cells as they struggle to survive in stressful environments. It also plays a role in dermatological processes. Fucoidan extracts produced by Marinova have been shown to increase SIRT1 levels by 32.4% in human cells in vitro (Fitton, 2015).
Immune responses can often be compromised in older people. Some fucoidans were shown in in vitro models to block the entry of coated viruses to cells, potentially halting the progress of infections. Fucoidans have also been shown in both in vitro and animal models to have been capable of inhibiting several different strains of influenza, including H1N1 (Hayashi, 2008; Wang, 2017), H5N1 (Makarenkova, 2010), H5N3 and H7N2 (Synytsa, 2014) and parainfluenza (Taoda, 2008). Oral delivery of Marinova's fucoidan has been shown to inhibit both lung damage and clinical signs of respiratory infection in vivo via indirect anti-inflammatory activity. Research in a severe Influenza A H1N1 mouse model using orally administered fucoidan (equivalent to 1-2g day human dose) showed attenuation of both clinical signs and lung damage (Richards, 2020).
Certain fucoidans have demonstrated activity against Herpes virus infection in both in vitro and animal models (Hayashi, 2008; Hayashi, 2008), and shown potential benefits for patients with chronic hepatitis C in a pilot human clinical trial (Mori, 2012). Further in vitro studies have reported activity against Newcastle virus (Elizondo-Gonzalez, 2012) and the measles virus (Morán-Santibañez, 2016).
In a pilot clinical study, the ingestion of a fucoidan extract was shown to help boost the immune response to seasonal influenza vaccinations (Negishi, 2013). The ingestion of a fucoidan extract produced by Marinova was also reported to increase the anti-pathogenic activity of granulocytes and macrophages in healthy people in a pilot clinical study (Myers, 2011). A range of fucoidan extracts were also reported to aid the maturation of dendritic cells, activate NK cells and promote cytotoxic activity in in vitro and animal models (Zhang, 2015).
There are a number of studies that have investigated the inflammatory modulating activity of fucoidan extracts. Fucoidan extracts, including those produced by Marinova, have been studied in preclinical experiments exploring both systemic inflammation and local inflammation applications. These studies have included both the oral ingestion of fucoidans and topical application (Lean, 2015; Lim, 2015; Lee 2015, Choi, 2010; Shang, 2016; Yang 2012). A fucoidan extract has also been shown in in vitro models to exhibit inhibition against cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) enzymes - key targets for anti-inflammatory drug development (Dewi, 2016).
The potential selectin blockade activity of fucoidan extracts has been widely reported and reviewed (Fitton, 2011). L-Selectins are cell surface receptors on white blood cells, which perform a braking function for the cells. This braking function allows these receptors to roll on endothelial surfaces and ultimately enter tissue spaces, reducing inflammation. In various models, fucoidans have been shown to inhibit selectins and thus leukocyte adhesion, which is hypothesized to increase their potential to reduce systemic inflammation. P-selectins are expressed on platelets, which are essential for the process of clotting. Cancer cells use both L-selectins and P-selectins as a way to metastasize to other tissue sites, sticking to the endothelial lining of blood vessels. In an animal model, a fucoidan extract was shown to inhibit this process (Gassman, 2010). Fucoidan extracts have also been developed as a radiolabeled P-selectin marker for imaging of platelet-rich thrombi (Rouzet, 2011).
Gut & digestive health
Increasing scientific attention is being placed upon the importance of gut health and ageing. Research has demonstrated that fucoidans may assist in balancing the composition of gut flora by promoting the growth of naturally-occurring good bacteria and reducing the growth of bad bacteria. In a series of animal studies dietary fucoidan extracts increased the abundance of beneficial bacteria that naturally reside in the gut (Shang, 2016), decreased the abundance of potentially harmful bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal problems and infections throughout the body (Shang 2016; Walsh, 2013) and significantly decreased the inflammatory response and antigen load of gut microbiota (Shang, 2016).
In animal models, fucoidan produced by Marinova has also been shown to significantly reduce inflammation of the colon in acute colitis models and increase the function of tight junctions in the gut [Lean, 2015], and inhibit stomach ulcers and inflammation (Marinova, unpublished research). Fucoidan extracts have also inhibited the adherence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria to human stomach cells in vitro, which suggests potential for use in preventing the onset of gastric ulcers and gastric cancer (Chua, 2015).
An unwanted side effect of antibiotic use is the reduction of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Human and animal studies have linked antibiotic-induced changes in the composition of gut flora to a number of negative health outcomes, including obesity and diabetes mellitus (Yallapragada, 2015). Results from in vitro studies on fucoidan produced by Marinova reported protective effects on good bacteria that are found in the gut during antibiotic use (research performed by University of Tasmania, Australia). The study involved the common antibiotic gentamicin and reported that the fucoidan extract protected the levels of good Escherichia coli bacteria which naturally reside in the human gut. In the same study, Marinova's fucoidan was shown to have no impact on the action of gentamicin against pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. This study reinforces the protective benefits that fucoidans may have on good bacteria during antibiotic use, whilst still enabling full antibiotic activity against bad bacteria.
Fucoidan extracts have also been studied in models of disease processes related to the brain. In vitro and animal studies have reported protective effects of certain fucoidans in models of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (Jhamandas, 2005, Luo, 2009, Fitton, 2019). Interestingly, a study investigating orally delivered fucoidan extracts in an animal behaviour model reported the prevention of depression in otherwise healthy animals (Lee, 2013).