Inhibition of mast cells by algae

J Med Food. Winter 2002;5(4):205-10. doi: 10.1089/109662002763003357.


There is a history of use of algae as foods and as food additives, or nutraceuticals. Although algae are a safe component of human foods and animal feeds, the effects of the algae other than as a source of protein are not clear. We examined the prevalence of an antiinflammatory activity in selected algae using, as an assay system, the inhibition of histamine release from mast cells. Methanolic extracts of eleven algae were examined for activity to inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells in vitro. This activity was found widely among the samples tested. The activities of these extracts were not uniformly stable in acid methanol. Selected extracts studied further did not separate with the use of size-exclusion filtration filters. LH-20 chromatography suggested at least two main elution areas of activity of the Chlorella extract. In summary, we saw wide phylogenetic dispersion of mast cell inhibition activity, suggesting that this antiinflammatory property is common in algae. This effect was apparently due to multiple activities within the algal extracts.

MeSH terms

  • Algal Proteins / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biological Assay
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Eukaryota / chemistry*
  • Histamine / metabolism*
  • Histamine Antagonists / analysis
  • Histamine Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Histamine Release / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / drug effects*
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Species Specificity


  • Algal Proteins
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Histamine Antagonists
  • Histamine