Piotr Rzymski is a environmental and medical biologist with interest encompassing but not limited to freshwater cyanobacteria, toxinology, risk assessment and human-environment interactions. An author of over 100 international publications, editor for 4 peer-reviewed journals and an active public science communicator.
SAFETY AND TOXICITY OF MICROALGAL FOOD SUPPLEMENTS: OVERVIEW OF FIVE YEARS RESEARCH EXPERIENCE
Piotr RZYMSKI1, Piotr KLIMASZYK2
1Department of Environmental Medicine, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, Poland
2Department of Water Protection, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
The food supplements based on microalgae, particularly cyanobacteria Arthrospira sp. and Aphanizomenon sp. as well as green-algae from Chlorella genus, are not increasingly used and gain economic attention, but at the same time, their bioactive properties are being extensively explored using complementary research models: in vitro and in vivo experiments, and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials involving different groups of patients. Over the last five years our research conducted number of studies to explore the safety and toxicity of these products based on clinical cases of poisonings and side effects self-reported by users, in vitro and in vivo toxicity testing, evaluation of content of cyanotoxins (hepatotoxic microcystins, cytotoxic cylindrospermopsin, neurotoxic anatoxin-a and teratogenic polymethoxy-1-alkenes) and toxic metals (Al, Cd, Hg, Ni, Pb and rare-earth elements) in commercially-available products and assessment of their nutritional value, especially as a source of essential macro- and microelements. The results of these investigation highlight that microalgal supplements, particularly those based on Arthrospira and Chlorella, can be safe for consumers if appropriate measures are taken to ensure safety during cultivation, although they also underline the continuous need to monitor these products in order to fully eliminate those of low quality. Keywords: microalgal food supplements, Arthospira, Chlorella, toxicology, consumer safety