The Euganean Thermal District (Italy) represents the oldest and largest thermal center in Europe, and its therapeutic mud is considered a unique product whose beneficial effects have been documented since Ancient Roman times. Mud properties depend on the heat and electrolytes of the thermal water, as well as on the bioactive molecules produced by its biotic component, mainly represented by cyanobacteria. The investigation of the healing effects of compounds produced by the Euganean cyanobacteria represents an important goal for scientific validation of Euganean mud therapies and for the discovering of new health beneficial biomolecules. In this work, we evaluated the therapeutic potential of exopolysaccharides (EPS) produced by Phormidium sp. ETS05, the most abundant cyanobacterium of the Euganean mud. Specifically, Phormidium EPS resulted in exerting anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution activities in chemical and injury-induced zebrafish inflammation models as demonstrated using specific transgenic zebrafish lines and morphometric and expression analyses. Moreover, in vivo and in vitro tests showed no toxicity at all for the EPS concentrations tested. The results suggest that these EPS, with their combined anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution activities, could be one of the most important therapeutic molecules present in the Euganean mud and confirm the potential of these treatments for chronic inflammatory disease recovery.
Keywords: Euganean Thermal District; bioactive molecules; cyanobacteria; exopolysaccharides; inflammation models; zebrafish.