The Key Role of Sulfation and Branching on Fucoidan Antitumor Activity


There is an urgent need for antitumor bioactive agents with minimal or no side effects over normal adjacent cells. Fucoidan is a marine-origin polymer with known antitumor activity. However, there are still some concerns about its application due to the inconsistent experimental results, specifically its toxicity over normal cells and the mechanism behind its action. Herein, three fucoidan extracts (FEs) have been tested over normal and breast cancer cell lines. From cytotoxicity results, only one of the extracts shows selective antitumor behavior (at 0.2 mg mL(-1)), despite similarities in sulfation degree and carbohydrates composition. Although the three FEs present different molecular weights, depolymerization of selected samples discarded M-w as the key factor in the antitumor activity. Significant differences in sulfates position and branching are observed, presenting FE 2 the higher branching degree. Based on all these experimental data, it is believed that these last two properties are the ones that influence the cytotoxic effects of fucoidan extracts.



subject category

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Materials Science; Polymer Science


Oliveira, C; Ferreira, AS; Novoa-Carballal, R; Nunes, C; Pashkuleva, I; Neves, NM; Coimbra, MA; Reis, RL; Martins, A; Silva, TH

our authors


The authors would like to thank the funding from projects 0687_NOVOMAR_1_P, cofunded by INTERREG 2007-2013/POCTEP, CarbPol_u_Algae (EXPL/MAR-BIO/0165/2013), and IF/00376/2014/CP1212/CT0015, funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, FCT, and ComplexiTE (ERC-2012-ADG 20120216-321266), funded by the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development. The authors would also like to thank FCT, Portugal, for the scholarship of A.S.F. (SFRH/BD/102471/2014), fellowship of C.N. (SFRH/BPD/100627/2014), Investigator grants of A.M. (IF/00376/2014), R.N.-C. (IF/00373/2014), and I.P. (IF/00032/2013) and the financial support to CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007679, FCT UID/CTM/50011/2013) and OOPNA (UID/OUI/00062/2013), through national founds and cofinanced by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement.

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