Anti-angiogenic effects of the blue-green alga Arthrospira platensis on pancreatic cancer

J Cell Mol Med. 2020 Feb;24(4):2402-2415. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.14922. Epub 2020 Jan 19.


Arthrospira platensis, a blue-green alga, is a popular nutraceutical substance having potent antioxidant properties with potential anti-carcinogenic activities. The aim of our study was to assess the possible anti-angiogenic effects of A platensis in an experimental model of pancreatic cancer. The effects of an A platensis extract were investigated on human pancreatic cancer cells (PA-TU-8902) and immortalized endothelial-like cells (Ea.hy926). PA-TU-8902 pancreatic tumours xenografted to athymic mice were also examined. In vitro migration and invasiveness assays were performed on the tested cells. Multiple angiogenic factors and signalling pathways were analysed in the epithelial, endothelial and cancer cells, and tumour tissue. The A platensis extract exerted inhibitory effects on both migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer as well as endothelial-like cells. Tumours of mice treated with A platensis exhibited much lesser degrees of vascularization as measured by CD31 immunostaining (P = .004). Surprisingly, the VEGF-A mRNA and protein expressions were up-regulated in pancreatic cancer cells. A platensis inhibited ERK activation upstream of Raf and suppressed the expression of ERK-regulated proteins. Treatment of pancreatic cancer with A platensis was associated with suppressive effects on migration and invasiveness with various anti-angiogenic features, which might account for the anticancer effects of this blue-green alga.

Keywords: Arthrospira platensis; angiogenesis; anticancer effects; carcinogenesis; pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Spirulina / chemistry*
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants

Supplementary concepts

  • Arthrospira platensis
  • Pancreatic Carcinoma