Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide (MW: average 20,000) found mainly in various species of brown algae and brown seaweed such as mozuku, kombu, limu moui, bladderwrack, wakame, and hijiki (variant forms of fucoidan have also been found in animal species, including the sea cucumber). Fucoidan is used as an ingredient in some dietary supplement products.
There at least two distinct forms of fucoidan: F-fucoidan, which is >95% composed of sulfated esters of fucose, and U-fucoidan, which is approximately 20% glucuronic acid.
The physiological and biochemical effects of fucoidan have been examined in several small-scale in vitro and animal studies. F-fucoidan was reported to inhibit hyperplasia in rabbits  and induce apoptosis in isolated human lymphoma cell lines in vitro. It has been hypothesized that these two effects may involve a common mechanism, but the evidence is inconsistent and no mechanism for the putative induction of apoptosis by fucoidan has been identified. A study in rats indicated that pre-treatment with fucoidan increases mortality subsequent to meningitis infection. In a clinical study, orally-ingested Undaria-derived-fucoidan was reported to produce a small increase in the total number of CD34+ cells, and a more pronounced increase in the proportion of CD34+ cells that expressed CXCR4. The authors of the study hypothesized that the ability of fucoidan to mobilize hematopoetic cells with high levels of CXCR4 expression could be clinically valuable.
- ^ Jean-François Deux; Anne Meddahi-Pellé; Alain F. Le Blanche; Laurent J. Feldman; Sylvia Colliec-Jouault; Françoise Brée; Frank Boudghène; Jean-Baptiste Michel; Didier Letourneur (2002). "Low molecular weight fucoidan prevents neointimal hyperplasia in rabbit iliac artery in-stent restenosis model". Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 22 (10): 1604–9. doi:10.1161/01.ATV.0000032034.91020.0A. PMID 12377737. http://atvb.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/22/10/1604.
- ^ Aisa Y; Miyakawa Y; Nakazato T; Shibata H; Saito K; Ikeda Y; Kizaki M (2005 Jan). "Fucoidan induces apoptosis of human HS-sultan cells accompanied by activation of caspase-3 and down-regulation of ERK pathways". American Journal of Hematology 78 (1): 7–14. doi:10.1002/ajh.20182. PMID 15609279.
- ^ Wu XZ, Chen D (September 2006). "Effects of sulfated polysaccharides on tumour biology". West Indian Med J 55 (4): 270–3. PMID 17249315. http://caribbean.scielo.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0043-31442006000400009&lng=en&nrm=iso?ref=HadiZayifla.Com&tlng=en.
- ^ Brandt CT, Lundgren JD, Lund SP, Frimodt-Moller N, Christensen T, Benfield T, Espersen F, Hougaard D, Ostergaard C (2003). "Pretreatment with fucoidan promotes lethal infection in a rat model of experimental pneumococcal meningitis". Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Chicago, Illinois. ISBN 978-1-55581-284-3.
- ^ Irhimeh MR, Fitton JH, Lowenthal RM (2007 Jun). "Fucoidan ingestion increases the expression of CXCR4 on human CD34+ cells". Exp Hematol 35 (6): 989–94. doi:10.1016/j.exphem.2007.02.009. PMID 17533053.