Background: C-phycocyanin (C-PC), a biliprotein found in blue green algae, such as Spirulina platensis, is often used as a dietary nutritional supplement due to its various therapeutic values. In addition, the antiinflammatory activity of C-PC partly through inhibition of proinflammatory cytokine formation, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygeanase-2 (COX-2) expression has been demonstrated in many in vitro and in vivo studies. However, whether C-PC also has antihyperalgesic activity in inflammatory nociception has not been investigated.
Methods: Using a carrageenan-induced thermal hyperalgesia model, we evaluated the effect of C-PC on nociception by measuring paw withdrawal latency. To clarify the mechanisms involved, the expression of iNOS and COX-2 and the formation of nitrate and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in the rat paw were determined.
Results: Pre- or posttreatment with C-PC (30 or 50 mg/kg, IP) significantly attenuated carrageenan-induced inflammatory nociception and the induction of iNOS and COX-2 at the late phase, (4 h) accompanied by an inhibition of the formation of TNF-alpha, prostaglandin E(2), nitrate and myeloperoxidase activity.
Conclusions: Based on these results, it is suggested that the inhibition of NO and prostaglandin E(2) over-production through suppressing iNOS and COX-2 induction and attenuation of TNF-alpha formation and neutrophil infiltration into inflammatory sites by C-PC may contribute, at least in part, to its antihyperalgesic activity.