Scientific Reports volume 10, Article number: 6382 (2020) Cite this article


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of Spirulina Platensis supplementation on selected blood markers of oxidative stress, muscle damage, inflammation, and performance in trained rats. Rats (250 g – 300 g) were submitted to a strength training program (eight weeks), divided into four groups: control (GT) (trained without supplementation), trained with daily-supplementation of 50 mg/kg (GT50), 150 mg/kg (GT150) and 500 mg/kg (GT500). Training consisted of a jump protocol in PVC-cylinder containing water, with increasing load over experimental weeks. We evaluated the markers of oxidative stress (malondialdehyde – MDA and antioxidant capacity) and inflammation (C-reactive protein) at the end of the training. Among groups submitted to strength training, concentration of C-reactive protein decreased after 8 weeks of intervention in the trained group and GT500. Strength training enhanced plasma MDA concentration of malondialdehyde with supplementation of S. platensis in GT150 and GT500. In plasma analysis, strength training enhanced the percentage of oxidation inhibition, with spirulina supplementation in rates of 150 and 500 mg/kg. Spirulina supplementation for 8 weeks (in a dose-effect manner) improved antioxidant capacity as well as attenuated exercise-induced increases in ROS and inflammation. As a practical application, the use as high doses did not cause a reduction in positive physiological adaptations to exercise training. Additional studies are necessary to test the application of Spirulina Platensis in other contexts, as collective sports (basketball, football, soccer).


Spirulina platensis is a microalga with biological activity as antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory and nowadays is used to produce nutritional supplements1,2,3S. platensis is composed of protein (55%–70%)4, carbohydrates (15%–20%)5, lipids (approximately 7%)5, fiber, ash, and water including various minerals, vitamins, γ-linolenic acid, chlorophyll, carotenoids, and phycocyanin2,6. Recently, some researchers have reported that the latter played a crucial role in the antioxidative action of S. platensis2.

In this way, many animal and human studies have reported possible beneficial effects of S. platensis under several diseases such as diabetes7, dyslipidemia8, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases9. In most cases, the decrease in the oxidative stress and the inflammatory process reportedly had beneficial effects2.

In addition to clinical settings, S. platensis has demonstrated promising results in an exercise context10. In India, athletes have been eating S. platensis while training for track and field events11. Chinese and Cuban Olympic teams are also known to eat S. platensis daily during their training12. It suggests some strength or exercise performance related to the effects of S. platensis supplementation in humans11. Concomitantly, we know that high volume and intensity of physical training imposes a challenge for athletes to modulate their immune system, as well as promotes an increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production11,13, that are associated with early fatigue. Due to its nutritional, immunosuppressive, and antioxidant properties, Spirulina platensis can protect against early fatigue onset.

In recent years, several studies have reported ergogenic effects in athletes using raw or unprocessed foods14. Evidence suggests that many phytochemicals (usually not yet fully known) present in these foods can act synergistically, increasing the effectiveness of physiological outcomes, and decreasing possible adverse effects, such as toxicity, and positive adaptations to training15. The latter decreased with supplementation (vitamin C, E, and Resveratrol)16,17,18. Thus, we can infer that S. platensis (that contains several compounds with bioactive properties and different mechanisms of action) can promote ergogenic action in the context of physical exercise with minimized negative effects.

To date, only aerobic exercises were used to analyze S. platensis supplementation on markers of oxidative stress, inflammation, muscle damage, and performance19,20. Previous studies could not answer whether the ergogenic effect of S. platensis is replicable in strength exercises. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate S. platensis supplementation on oxidative stress and inflammation and whether possible improvements in these variables would result in better performance in trained rats.

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