Spirulina Protects against Hepatic Inflammation in Aging: An Effect Related to the Modulation of the Gut Microbiota?

Nutrients. 2017 Jun 20;9(6):633. doi: 10.3390/nu9060633.


Aging predisposes to hepatic dysfunction and inflammation that can contribute to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Spirulina, a cyanobacterium used as a food additive or food supplement, has been shown to impact immune function. We have tested the potential hepatoprotective effect of a Spirulina in aged mice and to determine whether these effects can be related to a modulation of the gut microbiota. Old mice have been fed a standard diet supplemented with or without 5% Spirulina for six weeks. Among several changes of gut microbiota composition, an increase in Roseburia and Lactobacillus proportions occurs upon Spirulina treatment. Interestingly, parameters related to the innate immunity are upregulated in the small intestine of Spirulina-treated mice. Furthermore, the supplementation with Spirulina reduces several hepatic inflammatory and oxidative stress markers that are upregulated in old mice versus young mice. We conclude that the oral administration of a Spirulina is able to modulate the gut microbiota and to activate the immune system in the gut, a mechanism that may be involved in the improvement of the hepatic inflammation in aged mice. Those data open the way to new therapeutic tools in the management of immune alterations in aging, based on gut microbe-host interactions.

Keywords: Spirulina; aging; gut-liver axis; inflammaging; microbiota.

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / metabolism
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Biomarkers
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Liver Diseases / etiology
  • Liver Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Spirulina*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Biomarkers