Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is currently the leading cause of death worldwide( 1 ). Epidemiological evidence has shown a positive effect of polyphenol intake on CVD risk( Reference Arts and Hollman 2 ). Seaweed is a rich source of polyphenolic compounds, which can comprise 5 to 15% of the dried weight( Reference Ragan and Jensen 3 ). Some studies suggest that the potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of seaweed-derived polyphenols may yield highly bioactive components with commercial potential for food and pharma applications( Reference Scalbert, Manach, Morand, Resmesy and Jimenez 4 ). The aim of this randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled, crossover design study was to investigate the biological activity of a food grade seaweed polyphenol extract (CEVA, France) in terms of reducing oxidative damage to DNA, modulation of inflammatory responses and reduction on chronic, low level inflammation in vivo.
Volunteers were randomised to receive either a capsule containing 100 mg seaweed extract or a matched placebo daily for an 8 week period, with an 8 week washout period between each treatment. Fasting blood and urine samples were taken from each volunteer at 4 time-points during the study, at baseline and completion of the 2 treatment phases.
80 apparently healthy volunteers (42·7 (SD 7·1) years, BMI 30·2(SD 3·9) kg/m2) were recruited onto the study for 24 weeks; n = 78 completed both treatment periods. Blood and urine samples were analysed for an array of outcome measures including DNA damage to lymphocytes (Comet assay), intracellular cytokine activity (flow cytometer) (in preparation), C-reactive protein (CRP), triglycerides and isoprostane levels.
1Outliers removed s51, s16; 2Analysis performed on n = 40 only; 3Values are mean (SD); NS = not significant.
There were no significant changes in either the placebo or seaweed treatment group for any of the parameters measured. However, there was a 31% decrease in CRP, although this did not reach statistical significance. The inflammatory markers are yet to be analysed but may provide additional information on the anti-inflammatory potential of a range of novel seaweed extracts that could be further exploited.
This work is funded by the European Commission under the Capacities Programme (FP7) (no. 262519).