Microphyt builds science for Brainphyt microalgae extract

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

Microphyt's latest study continues to explore the impact of its Phaeodactylum tricornutum microalgae on the prevention of age-related cognitive decline © Jorg Greuel / Photodisc / Getty Images
Microphyt's latest study continues to explore the impact of its Phaeodactylum tricornutum microalgae on the prevention of age-related cognitive decline © Jorg Greuel / Photodisc / Getty Images

Related tags microalgae Brain health Microphyt

Biotech company Microphyt, which cultivates microalgae in industrial photobioreactors in the South of France, published the latest in a series of studies exploring the potential of its Brainphyt-branded brain health ingredient.

Writing in the journal Marine Drugs​, the team of French researchers delved into the protective effects of varying doses of microalgae Phaeodactylum tricornutum​ (Brainphyt), investigating the impact on cognitive function, oxidative stress and inflammation parameters in a mouse model of accelerated aging. 

“The study clearly shows the positive cognitive effects of BrainPhyt on spatial working memory and short-term memory in the face of accelerated aging,” Christel Lemaire, marketing manager at MicroPhyt, told NutraIngredients-USA. “The data are consistent with previous studies demonstrating neuroprotective effects of extracts from Phaeodactylum tricornutum​.” 

Neuroprotective effects of Phaeodactylum tricornutum 

The study is the seventh Microphyt-led pre-clinical trial on the microalgae extract, identified as a rich source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bioactives including fucoxanthin (a major carotenoid), polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), pigments, peptides and sterols.

The extract entered the U.S. market in 2019 following approval as a new dietary ingredient, which is marketed as “an all-natural ingredient derived from one smart microalgae” to improve cognitive performance, short- and long-term memory, learning and resistance of brain cells to oxidative stress.

Although the precise physiological mechanisms are not yet fully known, the researchers indicated that chronically active inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways appear to play a pivotal role in neuronal death, reduced brain volume, cortical thinning and cognitive impairment associated with the aging process.

“Given these potential mechanistic insights, compounds exhibiting antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory properties may prove promising in preventing cognitive decline during aging, complementing existing pharmacological and behavioral approaches,” they wrote. 

Lemaire also previewed a six-month randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trial completed last year in 66 healthy subjects between the ages of 55 and 75. 

“We found significant results on cognitive parameters such as memory, executive functions attention and vigilance,” she said. “It also showed very good support for stress management, which is very interesting because the older you get and the more aware you are that your cognitive function is starting to decline, the more anxious you can become about it and generate stress.”

Study details

For the current study, the researchers randomly assigned 72 male mice to either a blank control group (BC), negative control group (NC) or four similar Phaeodactylum tricornutum ​extract (PT) groups with different human equivalent doses to evaluate potential dose-response effects. 

From day 1 to day 51, mice in the blank control group were injected with a 0.9% normal saline solution, while mice in all other groups were subcutaneously injected with D-galactose (D-Gal) at a dose of 150 mg/kg once per day, five days a week. The D-Gal model is commonly used to mimic various behavioral and molecular features of brain aging in rodent models to assess the effects of anti-aging therapeutics. 

Mice completed a series of evaluations including the Y-maze and Morris Water Maze tests (an index of spatial working memory) and the Passive Avoidance Test (learning and memory).

“Results indicated that, for the three higher microalgae extract of PT dose groups, spatial cognitive function, swim latency and step-through latency impairments induced by chronic D-Gal intoxication were significantly and fully inhibited, with mean values similar to those in the BC group during each day of testing,” the researchers reported.

Biochemical analysis post-mortem confirmed similar benefits, specifically regarding brain and plasma levels of lipid peroxidation and of pro-inflammatory TNF-α and IL-6 markers.

“These data underscore the positive effects of a standardized extract of PT containing 2% FX on cognitive function parameters such as spatial working memory, long-term memory, and short-term memory through the regulation of oxidative stress and inflammation pathways,” the study concluded.

Lemaire highlighted that even low doses of BrainPhyt significantly protected against the memory and behavioral problems caused by D-galactose, that microalgae-supplemented mice behaved as well as the group not exposed to accelerated aging, and that the highest doses completely reversed the deleterious effects of D-Gal with the highest doses.

To better understand the underlying mechanisms of actions, the study called for further research into mitochondria function, Nrf2 pathway activity, microglial cells of the central nervous system and the gut-brain axis. 


Source: Marine Drugs
“A Standardized Extract of Microalgae Phaeodactylum tricornutum ​(Mi136) Inhibit D-Gal Induced Cognitive Dysfunction in Mice”
doi: 10.3390/md22030099
Authors: Jonathan Maury et al.

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