Appraisal of immunomodulatory potential of Spirulina fusiformis: an in vivo and in vitro study

  • Mahaboobkhan RasoolEmail author
  • Evan Prince Sabina
Original Paper


In recent years, Spirulina has gained more and more attention from medical scientists as a nutraceutical and a source of potential pharmaceuticals. The present study was conducted to elucidate the immunomodulatory effect of Spirulina fusiformis (a cyanobacterium of the family Oscillatoriaceae) in vivo and in vitro. The in vivo effect of S. fusiformis (400 or 800 mg/kg body wt.) on humoral immune response, cell-mediated immune response and tumour necrosis factor alpha was investigated in mice. We also evaluated the effect of S. fusiformis (50 or 100 μg/ml) in vitro on mitogen (phytohaemagglutinin)-induced T lymphocyte proliferation in heparinized human peripheral blood. For comparison, dexamethasone was used as a standard. In mice, S. fusiformis (400 or 800 mg/kg body wt.) administration significantly inhibited the humoral immune response, cell-mediated immune response (delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction (DTH)) and tumour necrosis factor alpha in a dose-dependent manner. In vitro, S. fusiformis (50 or 100 μg/ml) decreased the mitogen (phytohaemagglutinin)-induced T lymphocyte proliferation in a concentration-dependent manner when compared with control cells. These observations clearly suggest that S. fusiformis has a remarkable immunosuppressive effect, which provides a scientific validation for the popular use of this drug, and helped us in further work on investigating its complete mechanism of action.


Spirulina fusiformis Dexamethasone Lymphocyte proliferation Humoral immune response Cell-mediated immune response Tumour necrosis factor alpha 


  1. 1.
    Madhyastha HK, Radha KS, Suiki M, Omura S, Maruyama M (2006) Purification of c-phyocyanin from Spirulina fusiformis and its effect on the induction of urokinase-type plasminogen activator from calf pulmonary endothelial cells. Pytomedicine 13(8):564–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Premkumar K, Pachiappan A, Abraham SK, Santhiya ST, Gopinath PM, Ramesh A (2001) Effect of Spirulina fusiformis on cyclophosphamide and mitomycin-C induced genotoxicity and oxidative stress in mice. Fitoterapia 72:906–911PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Premkumar K, Abraham K, Santhiya ST, Ramesh A (2004) Protective effect of Spirulina fusiformis on chemical-induced genotoxicity in mice. Fitoterapia 75:24–31PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Qureshi MA, Garlich JD, Kidd MT (1996) Dietary Spirulina plantesis enhances humoral and cell mediated immune functions in chickens. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol 18:465–476PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Samarth RM, Panwar M, Kumar M, Soni A, Kumar M, Kumar A (2008) Evaluation of antioxidant and radical-scavenging activities of certain radioprotective plant extracts. Food Chem 106:868–873CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hirahashi T, Matsumoto M, Hazeki K, Saeki Y, Ui M, Seya T (2002) Activation of the human system by Spirulina: augmentation of interferon production and NK cytotoxicity by oral administration of hot extract of Spirulina platensi. Int Immunopharmacol 2:423–434PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kapoor R, Mehta U (1994) Iron bioavailability from Spirulina platensis by rats. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 43:1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rasool M, Sabina EP, Lavanya B (2006) Anti-inflammatory effect of Spirulina fusiformis on adjuvant-induced arthritis in mice. Biol Pharm Bull 29(1):2483–2487PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hansen MB, Nielsen SE, Berg KJ (1989) Re-examination and further development of a precise and rapid dye method for measuring cell growth/cell kill. J Immunol Methods 119:203–210PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Subramoniam DA, Evans S, Rajasekharan P, Pushpangadan P (2000) Effect of Trichopus zeylanicus Gaertn (active fraction) on phagocytosis by peritoneal macrophage and humoral immune responses in mice. J Ethnopharmacol 32:221–225Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Benencia F, Courreges MC, Coulombie FC (2000) In vivo and in vitro immunomodulatory activities of Trichilia glabra aqueous leaf extracts. J Ethnopharmacol 69:199–205PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Rasool M, Varalakshmi P (2006) Immunomodulatory role of Withania somnifera root powder on experimental induced inflammation: an in vivo and in vitro study. Vascul Pharmacol 44:406–410PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Mediratta PK, Sharma KK, Singh Surender (2001) Evaluation of immunomodulatory potential of Ocimum sanctum seed oil and its possible mechanism of action. J Ethnopharmcol 80:15–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wu Ming-Jiuan, Weng Ching-Yi, Wang Lisu, Lian Tzi-Wei (2005) Immunomodulatory mechanism of the aqueous extract of sword brake fern (Pteris ensiformis Burm). J Ethnopharmacol 98:73–81PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Beutler B (1995) TNF, immunity and inflammatory disease lesions of the past decade. J Investig Med 43:227–235PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Haworth C, Brennan FM, Chantry D, Turner M, Maini RN, Feldman M (1991) Expression of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor in rheumatoid arthritis: regulation by tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Eur J Immunol 21:2575–2579PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mazo VK, Gmoshinskii IV, Zilova IS (2004) Microalgae Spirulina in human nutrition. Vopr Pitan 73(1):45–53PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Seshadri CV, Umesh BV, Manoharan R (1991) β-Carotene studies in Spirulina. Bioresour Technol 38:111–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Mathew B, Sankaranarayanan R, Nair PP, Varghese P, Somanthan T, Amma BP, Amma NS, Nair MK (1995) Evaluation to chemoprevention of oral cancer with Spirulina fusiformis. Nutr Cancer 24:194–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Qureshi MA, Kidd MT, Ali RA (1995) Spirulina plantensis extract enhances chicken macrophage functions after in vitro exposure. J Nutr Immunol 3(4):35–45Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Heath and Life SciencesManagement and Science UniversityShah AlamMalaysia
  2. 2.School of Biotechnology, Chemical and Biomedical EngineeringVIT UniversityVelloreIndia

Personalised recommendations