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Biopotential of sea cucumbers (Echinodermata) and tunicates (Chordata) from the western coast of Portugal for the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses
* 1, 2 , 3, 4 , 3 , 3 , 3 , 3 , 3 , 3, 4 , 1, 2, 5, 6 , 3, 4 , 1, 2 , 7
1  Faculty of Biomedical Sciences and Medicine FCBM, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro, 8005-139, Portugal.
2  Centre of Marine Sciences CCMAR, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro, 8005-139, Portugal.
3  Division of Aquaculture, Upgrading and Bioprospection, Portuguese Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere, IPMA, Avenida Alfredo Magalhães Ramalho, 6, 1495-165 Algés, Portugal
4  Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR/CIMAR), University of Porto, Rua dos Bragas 289, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal
5  Algarve Biomedical Center ABC, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro, 8005-139, Portugal.
6  Centre for Biomedical Sciences CBMR, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro, 8005-139, Portugal.
7  Faculty of Science, University of Lisbon, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal


Chronic diseases are a major burden for health systems and the major cause of morbidity and deaths worldwide. It is well known the importance of inflammation processes and oxidative stress as players in the onset of chronic disorders. Among these, primary osteoporosis, the most common chronic bone disease, finds its pathophysiological roots in the dysregulation of pro-inflammatory processes. Nutraceuticals promise to be important sources of micronutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories for prevention of these disorders. In this context, the marine environment offers an interesting opportunity as source of novel bioactive compounds. We aimed at exploring the potential of two group of marine invertebrates - sea cucumbers (Echinodermata) and tunicates (Chordata) as sources of bioactives. 24 extracts (ethanol, water & ethyl acetate) from 4 species of sea cucumbers and 4 species of tunicates, were produced and screened for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and osteogenic activities. The later was assessed with an in vivo assay using zebrafish larvae. Our findings showed that ethanolic extracts presented antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, that revealed to be stronger in the tunicates. The osteogenic activities, which provides evidences of the bioactive potential of these organisms in preventing chronic disorders, was found to be strong in one species of tunicate and 3 of holothurians, and will be subject to further in-depth investigation.

Work funded by: European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 766347; and from FCT through project UIDB/04326/2020.

Keywords: Chronic diseases; Nutraceuticals; Natural compounds, Sea cucumbers, Tunicates, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-oxidants, Osteogenic.