C-Phycocyanin: an effective protective agent against thymic atrophy by tributyltin

Toxicol Lett. 2011 Jul 4;204(1):2-11. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2011.03.029. Epub 2011 Apr 6.


Spirulina platensis, used worldwide as a food supplement, is a natural source of protein, vitamins, carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fatty acids. C-Phycocyanin (C-Pc), its major biliprotein, is known to possess anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and radical scavenging properties. Our present study showed that treatment with C-Pc protects the rats from Tributyltin (TBT) induced thymic atrophy. The results reveal TBT-induced oxidative stress mediated apoptosis in rat thymocytes in vivo and its attenuation by C-Pc. This ameliorative effect could be attributed to antioxidant activity of the biliprotein. C-Pc also increased TBTC reduced thymic weight and cellularity as well. TBTC-induced ROS generation and lowered GSH levels were restored by C-Pc, suggesting its radical scavenging properties. The various apoptotic determinants such as mitochondrial membrane potential, Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, caspase-3 activity and apoptotic cell population were effectively modulated by C-Pc treatment. We make this first observation to illustrate the effectiveness of C-Pc in reducing TBTC-induced thymic atrophy. The morphology of thymic tissue was restored to near normal by this biliprotein. The present study, therefore, suggests that C-Pc could serve as an effective natural antioxidant for efficient management of TBTC induced oxidative damage.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Atrophy / drug therapy
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Male
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Phycocyanin / pharmacology
  • Phycocyanin / therapeutic use*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects*
  • Thymus Gland / pathology
  • Trialkyltin Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Trialkyltin Compounds / antagonists & inhibitors
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Trialkyltin Compounds
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Phycocyanin
  • tributyltin
  • Caspase 3