In Vitro Study of the Therapeutic Potential of Brown Crude Fucoidans in Osteoarthritis Treatment

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Nov 17;23(22):14236. doi: 10.3390/ijms232214236.


Osteoarthritis, one of the most common joint degenerative pathologies, still has no cure, and current treatments, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can cause serious adverse effects when taken for a long time. Brown seaweed crude fucoidans are used for the clinical treatment of several pathologies. In this study, the therapeutical potential of these biocompounds was analyzed in primary chondrocytes and the 260TT human chondrocyte cell line. Crude fucoidan from Undaria pinnatifida (Up) and Sargassum muticum (Sm) was obtained by different extraction techniques (microwave-assisted extraction, pressurized hot-water extraction, ultrasound-assisted extraction) and chemically and structurally characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, high-performance size-exclusion chromatography, proton nuclear magnetic resonance, and scanning electron microscopy. Once cell viability was confirmed in chondrocytes treated with crude fucoidans, we evaluated their anti-inflammatory effects, observing a significant reduction in IL-6 production stimulated by IL-1β. Findings were confirmed by analysis of IL-6 and IL-8 gene expression, although only fucoidans from Up achieved a statistically significant reduction. Besides this, the antioxidant capacity of crude fucoidans was observed through the upregulation of Nrf-2 levels and the expression of its transcriptional target genes HO-1 and SOD-2, with compounds from Up again showing a more consistent effect. However, no evidence was found that crude fucoidans modulate senescence, as they failed to reduced β-galactosidase activity, cell proliferation, or IL-6 production in chondrocytes stimulated with etoposide. Thus, the findings of this research seem to indicate that the tested crude fucoidans are capable of partially alleviating OA-associated inflammation and oxidative stress, but fail to attenuate chondrocyte senescence.

Keywords: chondrocytes; crude fucoidans; hemeoxygenase 1; nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor; osteoarthritis; proinflammatory cytokines; reactive oxygen species; senescence.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6
  • Osteoarthritis* / drug therapy
  • Osteoarthritis* / pathology
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Undaria*


  • fucoidan
  • Interleukin-6
  • Polysaccharides
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents