olmix_and_inraAs part of a partnership in France with the Olmix Group, researchers from Inra Val de Loire Infectiology and Public Health Research Centre (Inra) have shown that a compound extracted from green algae inhibited the growth of pathogenic bacteria in vitro and stimulated the production of immunity mediators by intestinal epithelial cells. This type of preparation could be used in livestock feed to improve animals’ resistance to infections and therefore reduce the use of antibiotics. It could also be used as an aid in vaccine strategies. These results were published on March 8, 2016 in the Journal of Applied Phycology.

Marine algae are chlorophyll-containing aquatic plants that grow on the seabed. They are classified in three groups depending on their pigments: brown algae (phaeophyceae), red algae (rhodophyceae) and green algae (chlorophyceae or ulvales). The cell wall of these marine algae are rich in sulfated polysaccharides, which possess physicochemical and biological properties that could have potential applications in the pharmaceutical industry, biomedicine, cosmetology and farming, or as additives in human and animal food.

Created in 1995, Olmix Group is specialized in promoting the use of green algae harvested in France’s Brittany region by processing them into innovative natural products for plant, animal and human nutrition and health sectors. With the aim of identifying beneficial bioactive molecules, Olmix Group prepared an extract of sulphated polysaccharide known as marine sulphated polysaccharides (MSP), using Ulva armoricana green marine algae harvested in Brittany.

For the Olmix / Inra research project, an MSP was studied in vitro to test its capacity to inhibit bacterial growth and stimulate the production of immunity mediators. The MSP’s ability to inhibit bacterial growth was observed on a panel of 42 strains of pathogenic bacteria isolated from livestock or their environment. MSP also induced an increased production of cytokines, in an in vitro system of differentiated porcine intestinal epithelial cells. The stimulation of these immune mediators indicated a potential stimulation of intestinal immunity by MSP.

Marine algae represent a source of natural bioactive molecules (including MSPs), which could be used in livestock feed to inhibit the growth of pathogens and boost the immune response. This could improve animals’ resistance to infections and reduce the use of antibiotics on farms.

Inra and Olmix are pursuing their partnership to determine the MSP’s mechanism of action, identify the cell receptors involved in recognizing MSP and confirm the in vitro results within vivo testing.

Mustapha Berri, Cindy Slugocki, Michel Olivier, Emmanuelle Helloin, Isabelle Jacques, Henri Salmon, Hervé Demais, Matthieu Le Goff, and Pi Nyvall Collen contributed to this research.