Bioactive Metabolites from Marine Algae as Potent Pharmacophores against Oxidative Stress-Associated Human Diseases: A Comprehensive Review

Molecules. 2020 Dec 23;26(1):37. doi: 10.3390/molecules26010037.


In addition to cancer and diabetes, inflammatory and ROS-related diseases represent one of the major health problems worldwide. Currently, several synthetic drugs are used to reduce oxidative stress; nevertheless, these approaches often have side effects. Therefore, to overcome these issues, the search for alternative therapies has gained importance in recent times. Natural bioactive compounds have represented, and they still do, an important source of drugs with high therapeutic efficacy. In the ''synthetic'' era, terrestrial and aquatic photosynthetic organisms have been shown to be an essential source of natural compounds, some of which might play a leading role in pharmaceutical drug development. Marine organisms constitute nearly half of the worldwide biodiversity. In the marine environment, algae, seaweeds, and seagrasses are the first reported sources of marine natural products for discovering novel pharmacophores. The algal bioactive compounds are a potential source of novel antioxidant and anticancer (through modulation of the cell cycle, metastasis, and apoptosis) compounds. Secondary metabolites in marine Algae, such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins, could have great therapeutic implications against several diseases. In this context, this review focuses on the diversity of functional compounds extracted from algae and their potential beneficial effects in fighting cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases.

Keywords: ROS; algae; apoptosis; cancer; diabetes; inflammation; marine bioactive compounds; oxidative stress; secondary metabolites.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Aquatic Organisms / chemistry*
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Drug Discovery*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Phaeophyceae / chemistry*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Biological Products