Spirulina and C-phycocyanin reduce cytotoxicity and inflammation-related genes expression of microglial cells

Nutr Neurosci. 2012 Nov;15(6):252-6. doi: 10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000020.


Objective: Our aim was to investigate the effects of Spirulina on BV-2 microglial cell cytotoxicity and inflammatory genes expression.

Methods: BV-2 microglial cells were treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (1 µg/ml) and various concentrations of Spirulina platensis water extract or its active component (C-phycocyanin (C-PC)) for 24 hours. Cytotoxicity (lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release) and expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) mRNAs were assayed.

Results: LPS increased LDH production and up-regulated expression of iNOS, COX-2, TNF-α, and IL-6 by BV-2 microglial cells. However, Spirulina platensis water extract and C-PC significantly reduced LPS-induced LDH release, and expression of iNOS, COX-2, TNF-α, and IL-6 mRNAs.

Conclusion: Spirulina can reduce the cytotoxicity and inhibit expression of inflammation-related genes of LPS-stimulated BV-2 microglial cells.

Keywords: BV-2 cells; C-phycocyanin; Cytotoxicity; Gene expression; Inflammation; Lipopolysaccharide; Spirulina platensis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / genetics
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Gene Expression*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Mice
  • Microglia / drug effects*
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Phycocyanin / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Spirulina*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Phycocyanin
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, mouse
  • Ptgs2 protein, mouse
  • Cyclooxygenase 2