Immunomodulatory and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Fucoidan: A Review
Inflammation is the initial response of the immune system to potentially harmful stimuli (e.g., injury, stress, and infections). The process involves activation of macrophages and neutrophils, which produce mediators. Even though it occurs as a physiological defense mechanism, its involvement in the pathogenesis of various diseases is reported. Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular diseases are only a part of the diseases, in which pathogenesis the chronic inflammation is involved. Fucoidans are complex polysaccharides from brown seaweeds and some marine invertebrates, composed mainly of l-fucose and sulfate ester groups and minor amounts of neutral monosaccharides and uronic acids. Algae-derived fucoidans are studied intensively during the last years regarding their multiple biological activities and possible therapeutic potential. However, the source, species, molecular weight, composition, and structure of the polysaccharides, as well as the route of administration of fucoidans, could be crucial for their effects. Fucoidan is reported to act on different stages of the inflammatory process: (i) blocking of lymphocyte adhesion and invasion, (ii) inhibition of multiple enzymes, and (iii) induction of apoptosis. In this review, researchers focused on the immunemodulating and anti-inflammatory effects of fucoidans derived from macroalgae and the models used for their evaluation. Additional insights on the molecular structure of the compound are included.