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Exploring the potential of algae for boosting the immune system of animals and reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock farming

Press release. The marine algae business is growing fast and attracting increasing attention thanks to the nutritional quality of algae and the abundance of bioactive molecules offering potential for applications especially in the human food and animal feed sectors. The cell wall of macroalgae, or seaweed, contains large quantities of sulfated polysaccharides. Various studies have shown their wide range of biological properties, including anticoagulant, antimicrobial, antiproliferative, antitumoral and immunomodulatory.

Collection of seaweed on the coast in Brittany. © Studio FUN IMAGES, Laurent Rannou
Updated on 04/10/2018
Published on 03/30/2018

A research partnership was set up between INRA and Olmix Group, the global leader in macroalgal biorefinery (particularly green and red algae), to explore the potential of isolated algal extracts rich in sulfated polysaccharides (OLMIX MSP® IMMUNITY). Joint efforts have led to demonstrate that in an in vitro study on differentiated intestinal porcine epithelial cells (IPEC-1), the results showed that MSP® IMMUNITY prepared from Ulva armoricana green macroalgae, harvested from the northern coast of Brittany, stimulated the production of immune mediators in the intestine as CCL20, IL-8 and TNFα.. The role of those immune mediators in the activation, recruitment and migration of immune cells, upon intestinal infections is demonstrated: hence this work proves the possible modulation of intestinal immunity by MSP® IMMUNITY (1) (Berri et al., 2016).

Understanding the mechanism of the immunomodulatory action mediated by MSP® IMMUNITY is necessary in order to optimize the use of bioactive polysaccharides in future prevention strategies boosting the animals immune response and health. The studies went thus further to explore the mechanisms involved in the modulation of immune response of epithelial cells by MSP® IMMUNITY. We have demonstrated that signaling pathway involves the activation of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) via the P13K/AKT pathway and the NF-κB transcription factor (2) (Berri et al., 2017).

These in vitro results are very promising, since it shows that the MSP® IMMUNITY could be used in animal feed to modulate the immune response of livestock and protect their mucous membranes from pathogenic bacteria, increase animals’ resistance to infection and reduce the use of antibiotics on farms, a major public concern.

1) Berri M et al. (2017) Algal Res 28, 39-47
2) Berri M et al. (2016) J Appl Phycol, doi:10.1007/s10811-016-0822-7

Scientific contact(s):

Press Relations:
Laurence Guillevic (33 (0)2 97 38 81 03), Laurent Cario (33 (0)6 09 99 54 59)
Associated Division(s):
Animal Health
Associated Centre(s):
Val de Loire