Background: Spirulina maxima is a filamentous cyanobacterium used as food supplement because of its high nutrient contents. It has been experimentally proven, in vivo and in vitro that posses several pharmacological properties. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of Spirulina maxima orally supplied (4.5 g/day, for 6 weeks) to a sample of 36 subjects (16 men and 20 women, with ages between 18-65 years) on serum lipids, glucose, aminotransferases and on blood pressure. The volunteers did not modify their dietary habits or lifestyle during the whole experimental period. From each subject, a sample of blood was drawn in fasting state of 12 hours to determi the plasma concentrations of glucose, triacylglycerols (TAG), total cholesterol (TC), cholesterol associated to high density lipoprotein (HDL-C) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). Anthropometric measurements including systolic (SYST-P) and diastolic (DIAST-P) blood pressure, height, weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) were also recorded.
Results: Comparing initial and final data, the results showed that there were no significant changes in the values of glucose and AST, but significant differences in TAG, TC, and HDL-C, were observed: TAG 233.7 +/- 177.8 vs. 167.7 +/- 100.7 mg/dL (p < 0.001), TC 181.7 +/- 37.5 vs. 163.5 +/- 34.4 mg/dL (p < 0.001), C-HDL 43.5 +/- 14.4 vs. 50 +/- 18.8 mg/dL (p < 0.01). The univariated analysis showed that the changes in the HDL-C and TC concentrations were dependent on TAG concentration (p = 0.247 and p = 0.108, respectively); nevertheless the calculated values for cholesterol associated to low density lipoprotein (LDL-C) were significantly reduced by the Spirulina maxima treatment but independently of the TAG changes. In addition, significant differences were found comparing initial and final SYST-P and DIAST-P blood pressure in both male and female: SYST-P male 121 +/- 9 vs. 111 +/- 8 mm Hg (p < 0.01), DIAST-P male 85 +/- 6.5 vs. 77 +/- 9 mm Hg (p < 0.01); SYST-P female 120 +/- 9.5 vs. 109 +/- 11 mm Hg (p < 0.002), DIAST-P female 85 +/- 11 vs. 79 +/- 7.5 mm Hg (p < 0.03).
Conclusion: The Spirulina maxima showed a hypolipemic effect, especially on the TAG and the LDL-C concentrations but indirectly on TC and HDL-C values. It also reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure.