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INNOVATIVE USE OF NORI (SEAWEED) IN FUNCTIONAL FOODS AND COSMETICS
 
 
Kenji Ishihara1, Yoko Sato1, Chiaki Oyamada1,
Hiromi Kunitake2 and Toshihiko Muraoka2
1Research Center for Biochemistry and Food Technology,
National Research Institute of Fisheries Science,
Fisheries Research Agency, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
 
2Food Science Research Division,
Kumamoto Prefectural Fisheries Research Center,
Kamiamakusa, Kumamoto, Japan 
 
 
ABSTRACT
 
Purple laver (Nori, Porphyra yezoensis and ??) is the most largely cultured seaweed in Japan. Annually, Nori is produced about 400,000 tons (wet basis) and 100 billion yen (1 billion US$) and one of the most important components of Japanese food. Nori contains many of the nutritionally functional components, such as ?-carotene, porphyran and vitamin B12 etc. However, Japanese Nori culture industry is now facing problems such as down trend of average price, competition with foreign countries and low quality appearance. We are studying functional ingredients of Nori for cosmetics and functional foods to add value to Nori and to develop new utilization ways of Nori. In this paper, we introduce two studies about functional compounds of Nori, one is about UV-absorbing amino acids (mycosporine-like amino acids) as cosmetic ingredients, and another one is about glycerol galactoside, which has prebiotic activity, as functional foods material.
 
 
Keywords: Nori, Porphyra, purple laver, mycosporine-like amino acids (MAA), Glycerol galactoside, prebiotics
 
 
INTRODUCTION
 
Purple laver (Nori, Porphyra yezoensis and Porphyra tenera) is the most largely cultured seaweed in Japan. Annually, Nori is produced about 400,000 tons (wet basis) and 100 billion yen (1 billion US$) and one of the most important components of Japanese food such as sushi. Nori is largely consumed in East and Southeast Asia, and due to the recent popularity of sushi, it is now available in many countries. Nori contains many of the nutritionally functional components, such as ?-carotene, porphyran and vitamin B12 (Mumford and Miura 1988).  There are many papers reporting about nutritional functions of nori and its components, such as antitumor (Noda et al. 1989), immunostimulating (Yoshizawa et al. 1993), anti-allergic (Ishihara et al. 2005), anti-oxidant (Zhang et al. 2003), enhancing dioxin excretion (Morita and Tobiishi 2002) and antimutagenic (Okai et al. 1996) effects. However, Japanese Nori culture industry is now facing problems, e. g. down trend of average price, competition with foreign countries and low quality appearance. We are studying functional ingredients of Nori for cosmetics and functional foods to add value to Nori and to develop new ways of utilizing Nori. In this paper, we introduce two studies about functional compounds of Nori, one is about UV-absorbing amino acids (mycosporine-like amino acids) as cosmetic ingredients. 
 
Mycosprine-like amino acids (MAA) can absorb harmful UV irradiation from sunlight and convert it into harmless heat (Conde et al. 2004). MAA are thought to be promised compounds as cosmetic ingredient. We found a new functionality of these amino acids (promotion of skin fibroblast proliferation) and developed a new cosmetic product.
 
Another study is about glycerol galactoside (GG). GG is contains a large amount of low quality Nori, and only a small amount of normal quality Nori. We have found that when orally administered, GG can increase intestinal bifidobacteria (prebiotic activity) (Muraoka et al. 2008, Ishihara et al. 2010).  We are now developing a new material containing GG for functional foods.
 
Mycosporine-like amino acids in Nori as a cosmetic ingredient
 
Mycosporine-like amino acids
 
Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAA) are natural amino acid derivatives having absorption peaks in the UVB (280-320 nm) and UVA regions (320-400 nm), and are synthesized by cyanobacteria, algae, fungi, and bacteria (Bandaranayake 1998; Dunlap and Shick 1988, Shick and Dunlap 2002). MAA are widely distributed in aquatic organisms including invertebrates and fishes via food-chain. MAA are thought to act as natural UV sunscreen in these marine organisms and are promised compounds for cosmetic uses.
 
Functions of MAA in Nori
 
In Nori, we found three major MAA (porphyra-334, shinorine, palythine) (Fig. 1). We analyzed MAA content and found that MAA content was around 1% by dry basis. MAA content positively correlated with protein content of Nori (Fig. 2). Protein content is used as an index of quality of Nori. Therefore, it was suggested that high-quality Nori contains high amount of MAA.  
MAA are thought to act as natural sunscreen in aquatic organisms. We examined sunscreen effect of MAA on human fibroblast and found MAA to have strong sunscreen activity (Oyamada et al. 2008). We have also found growth promoting effect of MAA on human skin fibroblast. These activities are suitable for functional cosmetic ingredients. 
 
Development of a skin care product containing Nori extract
 
We have developed a new skin care product in collaboration with a cosmetic company. We have developed Nori extract which contains MAA. Nori was pulverized and extracted with solvent and filtered through activated charcoal column for deodorization and decolorization.  We obtained light brown colored extract.  We confirmed the activities of Nori extract (Fig. 3 and Fig. 4). Nori extract contains MAA protected human skin cells from UVB-induced cell death. Nori extract also promotes fibroblast growth. Finally we developed a new skin care product blended with the Nori extract.
 
Glycerol galactoside in low-quality Nori as a functional food material
 
Glycerol galactoside in low-quality Nori
 
During studies about utilization of low-quality Nori, we found that low-quality Nori was fermented very well by lactic acid bacteria. We hypothesized that low-quality Nori contained growth-promoting substance for lactic acid-bacteria, and purified and identified the substance as glycerol galactoside (GG; floridoside: 2-O-glycerol-?-D-galactopyranoside, and isoflori-doside:1-O-glycerol-?-D-galactopyrano-side, Fig. 5). Already, GG has been known to be a component of nori (Noda et al. 1981).  But we found low-quality Nori have large amount of GG while normal-quality Nori contains relatively small amount of GG (Fig. 6). GG was selectively utilized by bifidobacteria among intestinal bacteria in vitro. GG was not digested by digestive enzymes and also not adsorbed via intestinal wall in vitro. Thus we concluded GG possibly have a prebiotic activity (Muraoka et al. 2008). 
 
Prebiotic activity of GG
 
Prebiotic activity of GG was confirmed in vivo by an animal experiment. Rats were fed with 5% GG supplemented diet for two weeks (fructooligosaccharide (FOS) supplemented diet was used as positive control). The GG diet increased intestinal bifidobacterial count and lactobacillus bacteria although the degree of the increase of bifidobacteria was less than that of FOS-diet group (Table 1). From this experiment, GG was suggested to have a prebiotic activity in vivo.
 
Synergistic effect of GG with porphyran, a major component of Nori
 
At first, we attempted to use purified GG as a functional food ingredient. But in terms of cost, it had turned out that purified GG was not competitive to other commercial prebiotic products. Thus, we thought that we should study to use GG as low-quality Nori itself or a crude extract. If there are any synergistic effects of GG with other Nori components, they can be an advantage for use of Nori itself or crude extract.
 
Nori contains porphyran, s sulfated polysaccharide, as a major component. Porphyran is known as dietary fiber and reported to stimulate immunity (Yoshizawa et al. 1993). We evaluated synergistic effect of GG and porphyran on intestinal immunity and fecal excretion in mice. GG showed little or no effects both on intestinal immunity (Cecal Immunoglobulin A (IgA) conc., Fig. 7) and fecal excretion (Fig. 8). But GG synergistically augmented IgA and fecal excretion elevating effects of dietary porphyran. These synergistic effects of GG and porphyran can raise a value of low quality Nori and crude extract of Nori which contains GG and porphyran as a functional foodstuff. Now we are developing a new functional food material made of Nori extract which contains both GG and porphyran. 
 
CONCLUSION
 
Nori is a major component of Japanese foods which contains many attractive functional components. We think Nori potentially can be a new material for functional cosmetics and foods. In this paper, we introduced two studies about functional components of Nori. In Japan, many projects to develop new utilization ways of Nori are in progress. We believe that there are new products which can be made using functional components of Nori in near future.
 
REFERENCES
 
  • Bandaranayake, W.M. 1998. Mycosporines: Are they nature_s sunscreens? Natural Product Reports 15: 159-172.
  • Conde, F.R. Churio, M.S. and Previtali, C.M. 2004. The deactivation pathways of the excited-states of the mycosporine-like amino acids shinorine and porphyra-334 in aqueoussolution. Photochemical and Photobiological Science 3:960-967.
  • Dunlap, W.C. and Shick, J.M. 1998. Ultraviolet radiation-absorbing mycosporine-like amino acids in coral reef organisms: a biochemical and environmental perspective. Journal of Phycology 34: 418-430. 
  • Ishihara, K. Oyamada, C. Matsushima, R. Murata, M. and Muraoka, T. 2005. Inhibitory effect of porphyran, prepared from dried 'Nori' on contact hypersensitivity in mice. Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry 69:1824-1830.
  • Ishihara, K. Oyamada, C. Sato, Y., Suzuki, T., Kaneniwa, M. Kunitake, H. Muraoka, T. 2010. Prebiotic effect of glycerol galactoside isolated from color-faded nori in rats. Fisheries Science 76: 1015-1021.
  • Morita, K. and Tobiishi, K. 2002. Increasing effect of nori on the fecal excretion of dioxin by rats. Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry 66:2306-2313.
  • Mumford, T.F. Jr and Miura, A. 1988. Porphyra as food: cultivation and economics. In: Lembi CA, Waaland JR (eds) Algae and human affairs. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 91-93.
  • Muraoka, T. Ishihara, K. Oyamada, C. Kunitake, H. Hirayama, I. and Kimura, T. 2008. Fermentation properties of low-quality red alga susabinori Porphyra yezoensis by intestinal bacteria. Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry 72:1731-1739.
  • Noda, H. Amano, H. Abo, K. and Horiguchi, Y. 1981. Sugars, organic acids, and minerals of 'nori' the dried laver Porphyra spp. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 47:57-62.
  • Noda, H. Amano, H. Arashima, K. Hashimoto, S. and Nisizawa, K. 1989. Antitumor activity of polysaccharides and lipids from marine algae. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 55:1265-1271.
  • Okai, Y. Higashi-Okai, K. Yano, Y. and Otani, S. 1996. Identification of antimutagenic substances in an extract of edible red alga, Porphyra tenera (Asakusa-nori). Cancer Letters 100:235-240.
  • Oyamada, C. Kaneniwa, M. Ebitani, K. Murata, M. and Ishihara, K. 2008. Mycosporine-Like Amino Acids Extracted from Scallop (Patinopecten yessoensis) Ovaries: UV Protection and Growth Stimulation Activities on Human Cells. Marine Biotechnology 10: 141-150.
  • Shick, J.M. and Dunlap, W.C. 2002. Mycosporine-like amino acids and related gadusols: biosynthesis, accumulation, and UV-protective functions in aquatic organisms. Annual Reviews of Physiology 64: 223-262. 
  • Yoshizawa, Y. Enomoto, A. Todoh, H. Ametani, A. and Kaminogawa, S. 1993. Activation of murine macrophages by polysaccharide fractions from marine algae (Porphyra yezoensis). Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry 57:1862-1866.
  • Zhang, Q. Li, N. Zhou, G. Lu, X. Xu, Z. and Li, Z. 2003. In vivo antioxidant activity of polysaccharide fraction from Porphyra haitanesis (Rhodophyta) in aging mice. Pharmacological Research 48:151-155.

Fig. 1.  Structure and λmax of mycosporine-like amino acids of Nori. 
 
Total protein content (%)
 
Fig. 2. Relationship between mycosporine-like amino acid content and Total protein content in Nori samples with different quality.
 
 
Fig. 3. Protective activity of Nori extract containing mycosporine-like amino acids on human skin cells from UVB irradiation. Cell survival after UVB irradiation (50 mJ/cm2) was measured. V.C.: Vitamin C.
 
Fig. 4. Growth promoting effect of Nori extract containing mycosporine-like amino acids on human skin fibroblast. Fibroblasts were cultured in medium supplemented with Nori extract for 72 hours. Cell number was measured by Cell counting kit-8 (Wako pure chemical company). V.C.: Vitamin C.
 
 
Fig. 5. Structure of glycerol galactoside (floridoside: 2-O-glycerol-α-D-galactopyranoside, and isofloridoside: 1-O-glycerol-α-D-galactopyranoside).
 
 
Fig. 6. Relationship between glycerol galactoside content and Total  protein content in Nori samples with different quality.
 
 
 
 
Fig. 7. Effect of glycerol galactoside and porphyran supplemented diets on cecal IgA concentration in mice.  
Statistical difference was analyzed by two-way ANOVA.
 
 
Fig. 8. Effect of glycerol galactoside and porphyran supplemented diets on fecal excretion  in mice.
Statistical difference was analyzed by two-way ANOVA.
 


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