3 Biotech

, 7:170 | Cite as

Investigation of in vitro digestibility of dietary microalga Chlorella vulgaris and cyanobacterium Spirulina platensis as a nutritional supplement

  • Ayse Kose
  • Mehmet O. Ozen
  • Murat ElibolEmail author
  • Suphi S. Oncel
Original Article


Microalgal proteins are promising sources for functional nutrition and a sustainable candidate for nutraceutical formulations. They also gain importance due to emerging focus on a healthy nutrition and increase in the number of chronic diseases. In this study, dried dietary species of microalga, Chlorella vulgaris, and cyanobacterium Spirulina platensis were hydrolyzed with pancreatin enzyme to obtain protein hydrolysates. The hydrolysis yield of biomass was 55.1 ± 0.1 and 64.8 ± 3.6% for C. vulgaris and S. platensis; respectively. Digestibility, as an indicator for dietary utilization, was also investigated. In vitro protein digestibility (IVPD) values depicted that cell wall structure due to the taxonomical differences affected both hydrolysis and digestibility yield of the crude biomass (p < 0.05). Epithelial cells (Vero) maintained their viability around 70%, even in relatively higher concentrations of hydrolysates in the culture. The protein hydrolysates showed no any antimicrobial activities. This study clearly shows that the conventional protein sources in nutraceutical formulations such as soy, whey, and fish proteins can be replaced by enzymatic hydrolysates of microalgae, which shows elevated digestibility values as a sustainable and reliable source.


Algae Cyanobacterium Enzymatic hydrolysis Protein Microalgae Digestibility Functional foods 



The authors are thankful to Prof. Fazilet Vardar-Sukan, Prof. Figen Zihnioglu, and also Dr. Zeliha Demirel from Ege University for their valuable discussions, advices, and shares on their expertise related to the subject; to the EGERT Inc. for their kind donation of Spirulina platensis biomass; to Prof. Ismet Deliloglu-Gurhan for supplying the cell line; and, finally, to Ege University Scientific Research Projects (BAP) for their financial support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ayse Kose
    • 1
  • Mehmet O. Ozen
    • 2
  • Murat Elibol
    • 1
    Email author
  • Suphi S. Oncel
    • 1
  1. 1.Bioengineering DepartmentEge UniversityBornovaTurkey
  2. 2.Bio-Acoustic-MEMS in Medicine (BAMM) Laboratory, Department of Radiology, Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early DetectionStanford UniversityPalo AltoUSA

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