Spirulina platensis alleviates chronic inflammation with modulation of gut microbiota and intestinal permeability in rats fed a high-fat diet

J Cell Mol Med. 2020 Aug;24(15):8603-8613. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.15489. Epub 2020 Jul 7.


Recent research suggested that taking a high-fat diet (HFD) may lead to a gut microbiota imbalance and colon tissue damage. This would lead to increased intestinal permeability and consequent constant circulation of low-grade inflammatory cytokines. Spirulina platensis can protect against HFD-induced metabolic inflammation and can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in in vitro stool cultures. However, it is unknown whether this beneficial effect acts on intestinal tissues. In this study, rats were fed a high-fat diet fed with 3% S platensis for 14 weeks. We analysed endotoxin, the composition of the microbiota, inflammation and gut permeability. We found that S platensis decreased the bodyweight and visceral fat pads weight of the HFD-fed rats. In addition, it lowered the levels of lipopolysaccharide and pro-inflammatory cytokines in serum. Our results showed that S platensis could largely reduce the relative amount of Proteobacteria and the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio in faecal samples from HFD-fed rats. S platensis significantly reduced intestinal inflammation, as shown by decreased expression of myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88), toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), NF-κB (p65) and inflammatory cytokines. S platensis also ameliorated the increased permeability and decreased expression of tight junction proteins in the intestinal mucosa, such as ZO-1, Occludin and Claudin-1. Therefore, in HFD-induced gut dysbiosis rats, S platensis benefits health by inhibiting chronic inflammation and gut dysbiosis, and modulating gut permeability.

Keywords: Spirulina platensis; gut permeability; high-fat diet; inflammation; microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Body Weight
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Permeability
  • Rats
  • Spirulina / physiology*
  • Tight Junction Proteins / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipids
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88
  • TLR4 protein, human
  • Tight Junction Proteins
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4

Supplementary concepts

  • Arthrospira platensis