The molecular weight of ulvan affects the in vitro inflammatory response of a murine macrophage

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Ulvan, a sulfated polysaccharide extracted from the green seaweed genus Ulva, has bioactive properties including an immunomodulating capacity. The immunomodulatory capacity of ulvan from Ulva ohnoi, however, has not been assessed in detail. We depolymerised purified ulvan from U. ohnoi to obtain a range of molecular weight fractions (Mw 7, 9, 13, 21, 209 kDa), which were characterised by constituent sugar analysis, SEC-MALLS, and NMR. Ulvan fractions contained 48.8–54.7 mol% rhamnose, 32.5–35.9 mol% glucuronic acid, 4.5–7.3 mol% iduronic acid, and 3.3–5.6 mol% xylose. 1H and 13C NMR was consistent with hydrolysis occurring at the anomeric centre without further modification to the oligosaccharide structure. The in vitro immunomodulatory effect of ulvan fractions was quantified by measuring levels of inflammatory-mediating signalling molecules released from LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 murine macrophages. All ulvan fractions showed no toxicity on RAW264.7 cells at concentrations below 100 μg mL−1 over 48 h. Secreted interleukin-10 and prostaglandin E2 demonstrated an anti-inflammatory effect by higher molecular weight ulvan fractions at 100 μg mL−1. To a lesser extent, these fractions also enhanced the LPS-induced inflammation through minor increases of IL-1β and IL-6. This study confirms that ulvan from U. ohnoi has a mild in vitro immunomodulatory effect.