Ecklonia maxima, an endemic South African seaweed, is a potential source of beneficial bioactive compounds. Among these compounds, fucoidan, a sulphated polysaccharide has a wide range of bioactivities including anti-diabetic activity. In this study, fucoidan was extracted from E. maxima by the hot water extraction method and then characterised by colorimetric assays for sugar composition. The extraction from E. maxima yielded 6.89% fucoidan which was found to contain 4.45 ± 0.25% L-fucose and 6.01 ± 0.53% sulphate. The water extracted E. maxima fucoidan had a low molecular weight of approximately 10 kDa. Structural studies (FT-IR, NMR and XRD) confirmed the structure and integrity of the fucoidan to be similar to previously studied fucoidans in literature. Finally, the activities of starch digestive enzymes; α-amylase and α-glucosidase, were investigated in the presence of the E. maxima fucoidan extract. Fucoidan from E. maxima was observed to be a potent mixed-type inhibitor of α-glucosidase with an IC50 range of 0.27-0.31 mg.ml-1, which was significantly lower than the commercial anti-diabetic standard, acarbose. Our present study demonstrated that fucoidan from E. maxima is a more powerful inhibitor compared to some standard anti-diabetic compounds and thus shows great potential for managing type 2 diabetes.
Keywords: Ecklonia maxima; Fucoidan; α-Glucosidase.
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