Extracts from Ulva armoricana green macroalga, harvested from the northern coast of Brittany, stimulated the production of immune mediators.

French researchers have been exploring the potential of algae for boosting the immune systems of animals and reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock farming. Past studies have shown that the cell wall of macroalgae contains large quantities of sulphated polysaccharides. These have a range of biological properties, including anticoagulant, antimicrobial, antitumoral and immunomodulatory.

A new research partnership – set up by Brittany-based Olmix Group, global leaders in macroalgal biorefinery, and France’s top agricultural research organization, French National Institute for Agricultural Research

(INRA) — is exploring the potential of isolated algal extracts rich in sulphated polysaccharides as an animal feed additive.

Olmix has a 600 m2 pilot plant for developing new technological processes such as micronisation, different types of extraction and complexation reactions, in particular to create new materials blending trace elements, clays and algae

Joint efforts have demonstrated that in an in vitro study on differential intestinal porcine epithelial cells showed that extracts from Ulva armoricana green macroalga, harvested from the northern coast of Brittany, stimulated the production of immune mediators in the intestine as CCL20 and IL-8.

The role of those immune mediators in the activation, recruitment and migration of immune cells upon intestinal infections is demonstrated, researchers say, proving the possible modulation of intestinal immunity by the product.

Project coordinators say the in vitro results are promising, as it shows the product could be used in animal feed to modulate the immune response of livestock and protect their mucous membranes from pathogen bacteria, increase their resistance to infection and reduce the use of antibiotics on farms.