Edible marine algae, or seaweeds, are a rich source of several bioactive compounds including phytosterols, carotenoids, and polysaccharides. Over the last decades, seaweed-derived constituents turned out to not only reside in the systemic circulation, but are able to cross the blood-brain barrier to exert neuro-active functions both in homeostatic and pathological conditions. Therefore, seaweed-derived constituents have gained increasing interest for their neuro-immunomodulatory and neuroprotective properties, rendering them interesting candidates for the management of several neurodegenerative disorders. In particular seaweed-derived phytosterols gained interest for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders as they potentiate neuroplasticity, enhance phagocytic clearance of neurotoxic peptides and have anti-inflammatory properties. Though, the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties of other constituents including carotenoids, phenols and polysaccharides have recently gained more interest. In this review, we provide an overview of a selection of the described neuro-active properties of seaweed-derived constituents with a focus on phytosterols.
Keywords: algae; carotenoids; neuro-active; phenols; phytosterols; polysaccharides; seaweed.