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Growing evidence for fucoidan in mental health

Posted Thursday 20 December 2018

Mental health

New research continues to emerge illustrating the potential role that fucoidan may play in modulating conditions that affect the brain, including depression, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

Fucoidan has been well-demonstrated to favourably modulate gut microbiota and reduce gut inflammation in animal and in vitro studies, offering one potential link to the gut-brain axis. Animal studies have also demonstrated the direct neuroprotective effects of fucoidan in the brain, suggesting another possible link.

In recent research, fucoidan has been shown to have ameliorating effects in depression models. The daily administration of fucoidan in an animal model showed significant improvement in depression-related behaviour. It was hypothesised that fucoidan may modulate the central noradrenergic system to deliver such anti-depressant effects. The researchers in this study concluded that fucoidan may offer potential in treating complex symptoms of depression disorder.

Fucoidan has been further investigated in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. In a first-of-its-kind study, fucoidan has been examined as a possible preventative agent for Parkinson’s Disease. This research demonstrated the protective effects of fucoidan on the dopamine system and mitochondrial function of dopaminergic neurons in an animal model of Parkinson’s Disease. 

Fucoidan has also been found to protect PC12 cells from apoptosis (cell death) and ameliorate learning and memory impairment in an Alzheimer’s Disease mouse model. Similarly, it has been demonstrated that orally administered fucoidan significantly improved the spatial cognition of rats with learning and memory impairment.

Another area of medical interest is the link between schizophrenia and inflammation in the brain caused by macrophage cells (types of immune cells). Researchers from Neuroscience Research Australia have recently discovered the presence of macrophage cells in brain tissue of people with schizophrenia. These findings suggest that macrophages may produce inflammatory signals in the brain to trigger psychosis. 

Related to this, Marinova is currently investigating the effects of Maritech® fucoidan in modulating macrophage behaviour. Investigations have already shown that Maritech® fucoidan has potent anti-inflammatory properties and can inhibit particular receptors on macrophage cells.

Currently there is a lack of therapies that are non-addictive or without problematic side-effects for treating mental health disorders. Due to these unwanted side effects, there is a very clear need for ongoing research into novel agents to prevent and treat these conditions. Studies to-date suggest that fucoidan may offer some hope in these mental health areas and further investigations are currently underway.

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