gms | German Medical Science

The ABC Conference: Algae Bioactive Compounds – from research to innovation

The project is funded by Interreg Deutschland-Danmark with means from the European Regional Development Fund.

25. - 26.08.2020, Kiel, Germany (online conference)

Comparison of structurally different fucoidans extracted from brown algae, regarding their potential antitumor activity

Meeting Abstract

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  • presenting/speaker Kaya Saskia Bittkau - Pharmaceutical Institute, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany
  • Sandesh Neupane - Pharmaceutical Institute, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany
  • Susanne Alban - Pharmaceutical Institute, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany

The FucoSan consortium. The ABC Conference: Algae Bioactive Compounds – from research to innovation. Kiel, 25.-26.08.2020. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2020. Doc20fucosan11

doi: 10.3205/20fucosan11, urn:nbn:de:0183-20fucosan110

Published: October 7, 2020

© 2020 Bittkau et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Fucoidans, extracted from brown algae, exhibit numerous biological activities such as antitumor, anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects. From clinical studies, this is also known for heparins, but their bleeding risk is opposed to use in other indications than thrombosis.

The aim of the study was to evaluate fucoidans extracted from different algae (Fucus vesiculosus (F. v.), Fucus serratus (F. s.), Fucus. distichus subsp. evanescens (F. e.), Laminaria digitata (L. d.), Saccharina latissima (S. l.)), concerning their basic structure and pharmacological effects, indicating potential antitumor activity. Additionally H2O2-degraded fucoidans with reduced molecular weight (MW) were included in the study.

The structural characterization included a degree of sulfation, monosaccharide composition and MW. The following pharmacological effects of fucoidans were compared with those of heparin:

Cytotoxicity and effects on proliferation of different tumor cell lines (MTS assay).
Binding affinity to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is important in tumor angiogenesis and an established target in tumor therapy.
Inhibition of the extracellular matrix degrading enzymes (ECM-enzymes) hyaluronidase, heparanase and elastase all playing a role in tumor metastasis.

Fucoidans from S. l. and F. e. were obtained in highest yields and additionally had the highest fucose content and degree of sulfation. Fucoidans showed neither cytotoxic nor antiproliferative effects. All fucoidans displayed higher affinity to VEGF than heparin. Also their ECM-enzymes inhibiting potencies were mostly superior to those of heparin, but considerably differed depending on the algal source. Degradation with H2O2 turned out as procedure to improve the quality and pharmaceutical properties of fucoidans.

In summary, fucoidans have no antiproliferative effects on tumor cells, but their affinity to VEGF and ECM-enzymes inhibiting potency indicate/suggest further investigations in angiogenesis and tumor metastasis models.