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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Jan 30, 2024  3 weeks, 1 day, 11 hours, 18 minutes ago

Herbs And Phytochemicals: Fucoidan From Ascophyllum Nodosum And Undaria Pinnatifida As A Potential Prophylactic Against SARS-CoV-2

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Herbs And Phytochemicals: Fucoidan From Ascophyllum Nodosum And Undaria Pinnatifida As A Potential Prophylactic Against SARS-CoV-2
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Jan 30, 2024  3 weeks, 1 day, 11 hours, 18 minutes ago
Herbs And Phytochemicals: The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has posed an unprecedented global health challenge since its emergence in December 2019. With over 750 million confirmed cases and 7.3 million deaths, the need for novel antiviral agents remains crucial. In the relentless pursuit of effective solutions, researchers have turned to natural compounds, and one such promising avenue is the exploration of fucoidans from Ascophyllum nodosum and Undaria pinnatifida as potential prophylactics against SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Ascophyllum Nodosum 
This Herbs And Phytochemicals news report covers research conducted by scientists from Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences-China, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou-China, Zhejiang University-China and Shanxi Agricultural University-China on the possible usage of fucoidans from Ascophyllum nodosum and Undaria pinnatifida as a dietary prophylactic against COVID-19.
Understanding the Viral Landscape
SARS-CoV-2 primarily targets the respiratory system, leading to symptoms such as dry cough, dyspnea, fever, and lung infiltrations visible on X-ray imaging, mirroring those seen in SARS-CoV infections. The emergence of variants of concern (VOCs), including Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and the highly mutated Omicron variant, has added layers of complexity to the pandemic. The spike protein (S) of the virus, essential for viral entry and assembly, is a key target for therapeutics. The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) acts as the primary cellular receptor, facilitating viral attachment and membrane fusion.
Fucoidan - Nature's Potential Antiviral Weapon
Fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide primarily composed of fucose, has demonstrated various biological activities, including anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidant, hypolipidemic, immunomodulatory, and anticancer functions.
The fucoidans from Ascophyllum nodosum (FUCA) and Undaria pinnatifida (FUCU) exhibit distinct structures, with FUCA characterized as a homopolymer and FUCU as a heteropolysaccharide.
Unlocking the Mechanism: Structure-Activity Relationship
Intriguingly, FUCA demonstrated significantly higher anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity than FUCU, with the degree of branching, rather than sulfate content, identified as the determining factor influencing antiviral efficacy. This highlights the importance of understanding the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of fucoidans in combating viral infections. Furthermore, FUCA exhibited a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on ACE2, surpassing the inhibitory activity of FUCU. This finding positions ACE2 as a key target for controlling SARS-CoV-2 infection.
In Vitro Insights: Modulating Cytokines and Inflammation
Both FUCA and FUCU treatments in vitro demonstrated downregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IFN-α, IFN-& ;gamma;, and TNF-α) and anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10 and IFN-β) induced by viral infection. This dual action on cytokine regulation suggests a potential for fucoidans to modulate the immune response, preventing the excessive inflammation associated with severe COVID-19 cases.
In Vivo Efficacy: Hamster Models Unveiling Promising Results
In hamster models infected with SARS-CoV-2, FUCA exhibited greater effectiveness in attenuating lung and gastrointestinal injury and reducing ACE2 expression compared to FUCU. This underscores the potential prophylactic role of FUCA in mitigating the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on vital organs. Notably, 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that only FUCU partially alleviated the gut microbiota dysbiosis caused by the virus, shedding light on the potential role of fucoidans in maintaining gut health during viral infections.
Structural Insights: UV Spectra and Composition Analysis
Structural characterization of FUCA and FUCU through UV spectra revealed distinctive peaks near 200 nm, suggesting the absence of nucleic acid content. Analysis of uronic acid content, total sugar content, and sulfate content further illuminated the unique chemical profiles of FUCA and FUCU. These structural insights contribute to a deeper understanding of the biological activities exhibited by these fucoidans.
Antiviral Potential and Gut Microbiota Modulation
With ongoing experiments testing various antiviral drugs, the natural origin of fucoidans makes them an appealing avenue for investigation. Natural plant ingredients, like those found in algae, may boost human immunity against SARS-CoV-2 without toxic side effects. Fucoidans, with their multifaceted biological activities, emerge as potential candidates for inhibiting viral replication, limiting ACE2 activity, and modulating immune responses.
Conclusion: Fucoidans as a Prophylactic Dietary Regimen Against SARS-CoV-2
In conclusion, the study provides a scientific basis for considering fucoidans, particularly FUCA, as potential prophylactic food components against SARS-CoV-2. By elucidating the structure-activity relationship, inhibitory effects on ACE2, modulation of cytokines, and attenuation of organ injury, fucoidans present a multifaceted approach to combating viral infections. The findings not only contribute to the understanding of fucoidan biology but also open doors for further research into harnessing natural compounds for public health preparedness against emerging viral threats. As the world grapples with the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, nature's own arsenal may offer innovative solutions for a healthier future.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Carbohydrate Polymers.
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