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P. S. Bernstein, P. Bhosale, F. Ahmed; Chlorella protothecoides is a New Generation Dietary Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Carotenoids for Human Ocular Health. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(13):4969. doi: https://doi.org/.
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Lipophilic nutritional factors such as omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids exert several important biological effects that may protect against retinal degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The upcoming Age-Related Eye Disease Study II (AREDS II) is specifically focusing on the potential protective roles of the macular carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA); however, there are no reports of a single natural source that supplies both carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids in appreciable quantities. In this work we have explored the potential of Chlorella protothecoides, a food grade algae, as a sole source of lutein, DHA, and other fatty acids.
Freshwater algae Chlorella protothecoides CS 41 was cultivated in Woods Hole MBL medium in 250 ml Erlenmeyer flasks and incubated at 20 °C under continuous shaking (180 rpm) in dark/light alternating cycles on a rotary shaker at 180 rpm for 240 h. The cell mass was harvested and analyzed for carotenoids and fatty acids by HPLC and GC coupled with in-line single quadrupole mass spectrometers (MS), respectively.
Chlorella protothecoides displayed specific growth rate (µ max) and maximum biomass of 0.25 h-1 and 10.68 g/l in 240 h. The production profile indicated that lutein was the major carotenoid (95% w/w) produced throughout fermentation. At the end of the fermentation run (240 h), the total lutein content was observed to be 8.14±0.6 mg/l. Lipid analysis revealed that Chlorella protothecoides accumulates fatty acids such as palmitic (C16), stearic (C18), oleic (C18:1 (n-6)) and arachidonic (C20:4 (n-6)) Most importantly, it displayed a considerable amount of DHA (C 22:6) accumulation (15 -23 % w/w of total lipid).
Production of lipids and carotenoids by Chlorella protothecoides suggests that it could act as a new generation, single source, nutritionally beneficial, dietary source of lutein and DHA for human ocular health that would be especially appealing to vegetarians and those interested "all natural" nutrients.
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