Chlorella sorokiniana Extract Improves Short-Term Memory in Rats

Molecules. 2016 Sep 29;21(10):1311. doi: 10.3390/molecules21101311.


Increasing evidence shows that eukaryotic microalgae and, in particular, the green microalga Chlorella, can be used as natural sources to obtain a whole variety of compounds, such as omega (ω)-3 and ω-6 polyunsatured fatty acids (PUFAs). Although either beneficial or toxic effects of Chlorella sorokiniana have been mainly attributed to its specific ω-3 and ω-6 PUFAs content, the underlying molecular pathways remain to be elucidated yet. Here, we investigate the effects of an acute oral administration of a lipid extract of Chlorella sorokiniana, containing mainly ω-3 and ω-6 PUFAs, on cognitive, emotional and social behaviour in rats, analysing possible underlying neurochemical alterations. Our results showed improved short-term memory in Chlorella sorokiniana-treated rats compared to controls, without any differences in exploratory performance, locomotor activity, anxiety profile and depressive-like behaviour. On the other hand, while the social behaviour of Chlorella sorokiniana-treated animals was significantly decreased, no effects on aggressivity were observed. Neurochemical investigations showed region-specific effects, consisting in an elevation of noradrenaline (NA) and serotonin (5-HT) content in hippocampus, but not in the prefrontal cortex and striatum. In conclusion, our results point towards a beneficial effect of Chlorella sorokiniana extract on short-term memory, but also highlight the need of caution in the use of this natural supplement due to its possible masked toxic effects.

Keywords: Chlorella sorokiniana; emotional behaviour; hippocampus; noradrenaline; serotonin; short-term memory.