Effect of spirulina and silicon-enriched spirulina on metabolic syndrome features, oxidative stress and mitochondrial activity in Zucker fatty rats

J Food Biochem. 2019 Sep;43(9):e12979. doi: 10.1111/jfbc.12979. Epub 2019 Jul 15.


The use of Spirulina platensis (Sp) as a functional food was suggested decades ago. Biological incorporation of Silicon (Si) into Sp increases its bioavailability for potential food supplement applications. This work aimed at determining the effects of Sp and Si-enriched Sp (Sp+Si) on metabolic syndrome features in Zucker fatty rats. Thirty Zucker fatty rats were divided into three groups and supplemented with placebo or Sp or Sp+Si croquettes for 12 weeks. Food consumption, glucose intolerance, hepatic steatosis, and mitochondrial and oxidative stress were determined. Zucker fatty rats exhibited several hepatic metabolic alterations as well as mitochondrial and oxidative stress perturbations. The intake of Sp increased plasma TG levels and decreased the hepatic NADPH oxidase activity and ameliorated transitorily the glucose intolerance. However, Si-spirulina does not appear to have more beneficial effects than spirulina alone. Other experiments with different species of rats/mice, different diets, or durations of diet intake should be undertaken to confirm or infirm these results. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Glucose intolerance and hepatic steatosis, two major components of metabolic syndrome, are increasing and becomes a major public health issue. Use of Spirulina platensis (Sp) as a functional food was suggested as a protein-dense food source. Bioavailable silicon (Si) may be an essential nutrient for higher animals, including humans. Sp but not Sp+Si decreased liver NADPH oxidase activity and improved transitorily glucose tolerance. This is the first study where Sp and Sp+Si effect on glucose intolerance is reported in Zucker rat. Other experiments should be undertaken to confirm or infirm invalidate the beneficial effects of Sp+Si supplement in the metabolic syndrome features.

Keywords: Zucker rat; mitochondrial activity; obesity disorders; oxidative stress; silicon; spirulina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Liver / prevention & control
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria, Liver / metabolism
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Silicon / chemistry*
  • Spirulina*


  • Lipids
  • Silicon