Study: Antioxidant Properties of Kelp

The kelp, Ecklonia cava is distributed in the temperate coastal zone of Korean peninsula and generally forms
highly persistent populations in clear waters (Kang et al. 2001). E. cava has been widely used as a source for products of fucoidan which has been well-known as an antitumor, anticoagulant and antithrombin polysaccharides
(Takashi et al. 1999; Takashi et al. 2000; Satoru et al. 2002).

In our previous study (Heo et al. 2003), E. cava hydrolyzates showed positive effect on scavenging reactive oxygen
species (ROS) including superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical, and singlet oxygen which are by-products of normal metabolism and attack biological molecules, leading to cell or tissue injury in human body (Sies 1986; Wagner et al. 1992).

Recently many phytochemical researches including seaweeds have tried to find natural antioxidants strongly
scavenging these free radicals that are powerful oxidants and contain unpaired electrons. Free radicals mediated
modification of DNA, proteins, lipids, and small cellular molecules is associated with a number of pathological processes, including atherosclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, pulmonary dysfunction, ischemia-reperfusion tissue damage and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (Steinberg et al. 1989; Frlich and Riederer 1995).

Although most photosynthesizing plants including seaweeds are exposed to a combination of light and high oxygen concentrations, which lead to the formation of free radicals and other strong oxidizing agents, they seldom suffer from any serious photodynamic damage in vivo. This fact implies that their cells have protective antioxidative mechanisms and compounds (Dykens et al. 1992; Sukenik et al. 1993; Matsukawa et al. 1997). Plant phenolic compounds are known to possess antioxidant ability to scavenge reactive oxygen species and free radicals (Bernard et al. 1997; Bhagavathi et al. 2002; Owan et al. 2003; Cheng et al. 2003).

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