Prophylactic role of phycocyanin: a study of oxalate mediated renal cell injury

Chem Biol Interact. 2004 Aug 10;149(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2004.05.006.


Oxalate induced renal calculi formation and the associated renal injury is thought to be caused by free radical mediated mechanisms. An in vivo model was used to investigate the effect of phycocyanin (from Spirulina platensis), a known antioxidant, against calcium oxalate urolithiasis. Male Wistar rats were divided into four groups. Hyperoxaluria was induced in two of these groups by intraperitoneal infusion of sodium oxalate (70 mg/kg) and a pretreatment of phycocyanin (100 mg/kg) as a single oral dosage was given, 1h prior to sodium oxalate infusion. An untreated control and drug control (phycocyanin alone) were also included in the study. We observed that phycocyanin significantly controlled the early biochemical changes in calcium oxalate stone formation. The antiurolithic nature of the drug was evaluated by the assessment of urinary risk factors and light microscopic observation of urinary crystals. Renal tubular damage as divulged by urinary marker enzymes (alkaline phosphatase, acid phosphatase and gamma-glutamyl transferase) and histopathological observations such as decreased tubulointerstitial, tubular dilatation and mononuclear inflammatory cells, indicated that renal damage was minimised in drug-pretreated group. Oxalate levels (P < 0.001) and lipid peroxidation (P < 0.001) in kidney tissue were significantly controlled by drug pretreatment, suggesting the ability of phycocyanin to quench the free radicals, thereby preventing the lipid peroxidation mediated tissue damage and oxalate entry. This accounts for the prevention of CaOx stones. Thus, the present analysis revealed the antioxidant and antiurolithic potential of phycocyanin thereby projecting it as a promising therapeutic agent against renal cell injury associated kidney stone formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase / urine
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / urine
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hyperoxaluria / chemically induced
  • Hyperoxaluria / pathology
  • Hyperoxaluria / prevention & control
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney Calculi / chemically induced
  • Kidney Calculi / enzymology
  • Kidney Calculi / prevention & control*
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Oxalates* / metabolism
  • Oxalates* / toxicity
  • Phycocyanin / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spirulina
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / urine


  • Antioxidants
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Biomarkers
  • Oxalates
  • Phycocyanin
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Acid Phosphatase