Background: The unicellular alga Dunaliella bardawil was previously shown to contain very high concentrations of beta-carotene composed of equal amounts of the all-trans and 9-cis stereoisomers which differ in their physicochemical features and antioxidative activity. Due to the controversy regarding the beneficial effect of antioxidants on asthma, the acute effects of beta-carotene of Dunaliella was assessed on airway hyperreactivity in patients with exercise-induced asthma (EIA).
Methods: Thirty-eight patients with EIA participated in our study to verify the antioxidative effect. The test was based on the following sequence: baseline pulmonary function, 7 minutes exercise session on a motorized treadmill, 8 minutes rest, 1-week oral random, double-blind supplementation of placebo or 64 mg/day beta-carotene, pulmonary functions at rest, 7 minutes exercise session, 8 minutes rest and again pulmonary functions.
Results: All patients given placebo showed a significant postexercise reduction of more than 15% in their forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1). Of the 38 patients who received a daily dose of 64 mg of beta-carotene for 1 week, 20 (53%) were protected against EIA.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that a daily dose of Dunaliella beta-carotene exerts a protective effect against EIA in some patients most probably through in vivo antioxidative effect.