We report data from two related assay systems (isolated enzyme assays and whole blood assays) that C-phycocyanin a biliprotein from Spirulina platensis is a selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) with a very low IC(50) COX-2/IC(50) COX-1 ratio (0.04). The extent of inhibition depends on the period of preincubation of phycocyanin with COX-2, but without any effect on the period of preincubation with COX-1. The IC(50) value obtained for the inhibition of COX-2 by phycocyanin is much lower (180 nM) as compared to those of celecoxib (255 nM) and rofecoxib (401 nM), the well-known selective COX-2 inhibitors. In the human whole blood assay, phycocyanin very efficiently inhibited COX-2 with an IC(50) value of 80 nM. Reduced phycocyanin and phycocyanobilin, the chromophore of phycocyanin are poor inhibitors of COX-2 without COX-2 selectivity. This suggests that apoprotein in phycocyanin plays a key role in the selective inhibition of COX-2. The present study points out that the hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-arthritic properties of phycocyanin reported in the literature may be due, in part, to its selective COX-2 inhibitory property, although its ability to efficiently scavenge free radicals and effectively inhibit lipid peroxidation may also be involved.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.