Role of histamine in the inhibitory effects of phycocyanin in experimental models of allergic inflammatory response

Mediators Inflamm. 2002 Apr;11(2):81-5. doi: 10.1080/09629350220131926.


It has recently been reported that phycocyanin, a biliprotein found in the blue-green microalgae Spirulina, exerts anti-inflammatory effects in some animal models of inflammation. Taking into account these findings, we decided to elucidate whether phycocyanin might exert also inhibitory effects in the induced allergic inflammatory response and on histamine release from isolated rat mast cells. In in vivo experiments, phycocyanin (100, 200 and 300mg/kg post-orally (p.o.)) was administered 1 h before the challenge with 1 microg of ovalbumin (OA) in the ear of mice previously sensitized with OA. One hour later, myeloperoxidase activity and ear edema were assessed. Phycocyanin significantly reduced both parameters. In separate experiments, phycocyanin (100 and 200 mg/kg p.o.) also reduced the blue spot area induced by intradermal injections of histamine, and the histamine releaser compound 48/80 in rat skin. In concordance with the former results, phycocyanin also significantly reduced histamine release induced by compound 48/80 from isolated peritoneal rat mast cells. The inhibitory effects of phycocyanin were dose dependent. Taken together, our results suggest that inhibition of allergic inflammatory response by phycocyanin is mediated, at least in part, by inhibition of histamine release from mast cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Allergic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Histamine / physiology*
  • Histamine Release / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Phycocyanin / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reactive Oxygen Species


  • Anti-Allergic Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Phycocyanin
  • Histamine
  • Ovalbumin
  • Peroxidase