C-phycocyanin, the major protein of cyanobacteria Spirulina, possesses significant antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects, ascribed to covalently attached linear tetrapyrrole chromophore phycocyanobilin. There are no literature data about structure and biological activities of released peptides with bound chromophore in C-phycocyanin digest. This study aims to identify chromopeptides obtained after pepsin digestion of C-phycocyanin and to examine their bioactivities. C-phycocyanin is rapidly digested by pepsin in simulated gastric fluid. The structure of released chromopeptides was analyzed by high resolution tandem mass spectrometry and peptides varying in size from 2 to 13 amino acid residues were identified in both subunits of C-phycocyanin. Following separation by HPLC, chromopeptides were analyzed for potential bioactivities. It was shown that all five chromopeptide fractions have significant antioxidant and metal-chelating activities and show cytotoxic effect on human cervical adenocarcinoma and epithelial colonic cancer cell lines. In addition, chromopeptides protect human erythrocytes from free radical-induced hemolysis in antioxidative capacity-dependant manner. There was a positive correlation between antioxidative potency and other biological activities of chromopeptides. Digestion by pepsin releases biologically active chromopeptides from C-phycocyanin whose activity is mostly related to the antioxidative potency provided by chromophore.
Keywords: Bioactivity; C-phycocyanin; Digestibility; Peptides; Phycocyanobilin.
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