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September 23, 2021

Microalgae Chlorella vulgaris, naturally found in marine and freshwater environments, has beneficial health effects associated with several nutrients and antioxidants, including carotenoids. However, the in vivo bioavailability of Chlorella-derived compounds is still poorly understood.

In a recent human intervention study, coordinated by Rosário Bronze, Senior Scientific Advisor of iBET and published in MDPI Antioxidants, the bioavailability of carotenoids was evaluated in healthy male volunteers within 3 days after the intake of a single dose (6 g) of dried marine Chlorella vulgaris. The bioavailability of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and essential trace elements was also assessed.

This study indicates that a single dose of marine Chlorella vulgaris increased plasma concentrations of carotenoids – lutein, β-carotene and zeaxanthin – and PUFA – linoleic acid and docosahexaenoic acid – after intake. These findings support the use of Chlorella vulgaris as a carotenoid source, corroborating the outcomes of previous studies, and demonstrates that these microalgae can be a source of PUFA and essential trace elements with multiple associated health benefits.

Teresa Serra, Head of Natural Bioactives and Nutraceuticals Area at iBET and first author of the publication, says: “This work builds on top of iBET competences in the design of human intervention studies to evaluate bioavailability and analyze biomarkers of food products consumption. The development of microalgae-based products is a promising field due to their extensive application potential in several industries. This research project contributed to the valorization of marine Chlorella vulgaris, and will promote the design of formulation strategies to improve the bioavailability of carotenoids, PUFA and other important micro- and macronutrients in C. vulgaris and in additional microalgae species”

This work was performed in collaboration with ITQB-NOVA, Faculdade de Farmácia da Universidade de Lisboa, INIAV and Luxembourg Institute of Health and results from iBET long-term successful partnership with its associate Buggypower. Buggypower is a Portuguese biotech engineering company, and a European technological leader dedicated to the design, construction and operation of biorefineries for the production of marine microalgae and marine microalgae-based innovative products for food and feed, nutraceuticals, and cosmetic industries.

The results of this human intervention study were presented by Teresa Serra in an oral presentation at XV Encontro de Química dos Alimentos, that took place from 5 to 8 September 2021.

Original Research:

Serra AT, Silva SD, Pleno de Gouveia L, Alexandre AMRC, Pereira CV, Pereira AB, Partidário AC, Silva NE, Bohn T, Gonçalves VSS, Real G, Escudero P, Fernández N, Matias AA, Bronze MR. (2021) A Single Dose of Marine Chlorella vulgaris Increases Plasma Concentrations of Lutein, β-Carotene and Zeaxanthin in Healthy Male Volunteers. Antioxidants, 10: 1164. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox10081164

Encapsulated dried marine Chlorella vulgaris
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