AphaMax®, an aphanizomenon flos-aquae aqueous extract, exerts intestinal protective effects in experimental colitis in rats

Gaetano Felice Caldara, Maria Grazia Zizzo, Rosa Maria Serio, Domenico Nuzzo, Stefano Scoglio, Marta Di Carlo, Domenico Nuzzo, Marta Di Carlo

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Background: Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is a unicellular cyanobacterium considered to be a “superfood” for its complete nutritional profile and beneficial properties. We investigated possible beneficial effects of an AFA extract, commercialized as AphaMax®, containing concentrated amount of phycocyanins and phytochrome, in 2,4 dinitrobenzensulfonic acid(DNBS)-induced colitis in rats. Methods: Effects of preventive oral treatment of AphaMax® (20, 50 or 100 mg/kg/day) in colitic rats were assessed and then macroscopic and microscopic analyses were performed to evaluate the inflammation degree. Myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity and NF-κB, pro-inflammatory citockines, cycloxygenase-2 (COX-2), and inducible NOS (iNOS) levels of expression were determined, as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and nitrite levels. Results: AphaMax® treatment attenuated the severity of colitis ameliorating clinical signs. AphaMax® reduced the histological colonic damage and decreased MPO activity, NF-κB activation, as well as iNOS and COX-2 expression. AphaMax® treatment improved the altered immune response associated with colonic inflammation reducing IL-1β, IL-6 expression. Lastly, AphaMax® reduced oxidative stress, decreasing ROS and nitrite levels. Conclusions: Preventive treatment with AphaMax® attenuates the severity of the inflammation in DNBS colitis rats involving decrease of the NF-kB activation, reduction of iNOS and COX-2 expression, and inhibition of oxidative stress. Due its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant proprieties AphaMax® could be a good candidate as a complementary drug in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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