Hypocholesterolemic effect of Nostoc commune var. sphaeroides Kützing, an edible blue-green alga

Heather E. Rasmussen, Kara R. Blobaum, Elliot D. Jesch, Chai Siah Ku, Young Ki Park, Fan Lu, Timothy P. Carr, Ji Young Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Intake of an edible blue-green alga Nostoc commune var. sphaeroides Kützing (N. Commune) has been shown to lower plasma total cholesterol concentration, but the mechanisms behind the hypocholesterolemic effect have not been elucidated. Aim of the study: To elucidate the mechanisms underlying the cholesterol-lowering effect of N. commune in mice. Methods: Male C57BL/6J mice were fed the AIN-93 M diet supplemented with 0 or 5% (wt/wt) dried N. Commune for 4 weeks. Lipid levels in the plasma and liver, intestinal cholesterol absorption and fecal sterol excretion were measured. Expression of hepatic and intestinal genes involved in cholesterol metabolism was evaluated by quantitative realtime PCR. Results: N. commune supplementation significantly reduced total plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations by ~ 20% compared to controls. Intestinal cholesterol absorption was significantly decreased, while fecal neutral sterol output was significantly increased in N. commune-fed mice. mRNA levels of the cholesterol transporters such as Niemann Pick C1 Like 1, scavenger receptor class B type 1, ATP-binding cassette transporters G5 and A1 in small intestine were not significantly different between two groups. Hepatic lipid contents including total cholesterol, triglyceride and free cholesterol in N. commune-fed mice were not significantly altered. However, the expression of cholesterol modulating genes including sterol regulatory element binding protein-2 and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase were significantly increased in mice fed N. commune. Conclusions: N. commune supplementation exerted a hypocholesterolemic effect in mice, largely in part, by reducing intestinal cholesterol absorption and promoting fecal neutral sterol excretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-394
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009


  • Blue-green algae
  • Cholesterol absorption
  • Cholesterol metabolism
  • Nostoc commune var. sphaeroides Kützing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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