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Davydova, V.N.; Sorokina, I.V.; Volod’ko, A.V.; Sokolova, E.V.; Borisova, M.S.; Yermak, I.M. Carrageenan. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 21 April 2024).
Davydova VN, Sorokina IV, Volod’ko AV, Sokolova EV, Borisova MS, Yermak IM. Carrageenan. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 21, 2024.
Davydova, Viktoriya N., Irina V. Sorokina, Aleksandra V. Volod’ko, Ekaterina V. Sokolova, Marina S. Borisova, Irina M. Yermak. "Carrageenan" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 21, 2024).
Davydova, V.N., Sorokina, I.V., Volod’ko, A.V., Sokolova, E.V., Borisova, M.S., & Yermak, I.M. (2020, September 22). Carrageenan. In Encyclopedia.
Davydova, Viktoriya N., et al. "Carrageenan." Encyclopedia. Web. 22 September, 2020.

Carrageenan (CGN) is a sulfated galactose copolymer composed of alternating units of D-galactose and 3,6-anhydro-galactose joined by α-1,3 and β-1,4-glycosidic linkages.

carrageenans immunomodulators antioxidants polyelectrolyte complexes drug delivery

1. Introduction

CGN is classified into various types such as λ, κ, ι, ε, μ, depending on the amount and location of sulfate groups as well as the presence or absence of 3,6-anhydro-galactose units[1].

2. Applications

CGNs have diverse activities including immunomodulatory[2], anticoagulant[3], antithrombotic[4], antiviral[5], and antitumor effects[6]. In recent years, CGNs have been increasingly used for pharmaceutical purposes. CGNs are one source of soluble dietary fibers[7]. Standard animal safety studies in which CGN was administered in diet showed no adverse effects[8]. Due to their biocompatibility, safety (USP35-NF30S1, BP2012, EP7.0), availability, wide range of biological activity, a simple thermo-reversible gelation mechanism, viscoelastic properties and the ability to form complexes with polycations via electrostatic interactions, CGNs are ideal components to obtain new vehicles for the delivery therapeutic substances that can be retained at mucosal surfaces and release the drug slowly[9].

Marine polysaccharides stimulate different types of immune system cells, both in vitro and in vivo, to produce and secrete molecules with immunostimulatory effects[10][11]. CGNs have been demonstrated to play an important role as free-radical scavengers and antioxidants for the prevention of oxidative damage in living organisms[12]. Our studies on the antioxidant capacity of CGN[13] have shown that the activity of carrageenans depends on the polysaccharide structure. Hence, they have therapeutic potential for the treatment of immunological disorders.


  1. F. Van De Velde; Svein Halvor Knutsen; A.I. Usov; H.S. Rollema; A.S. Cerezo; 1H and 13C high resolution NMR spectroscopy of carrageenans: application in research and industry. Trends in Food Science & Technology 2002, 13, 73-92, 10.1016/s0924-2244(02)00066-3.
  2. Irina M. Yermak; Anna O. Barabanova; Dmitry L. Aminin; Victoria N. Davydova; Ekaterina Sokolova; Tamara F. Solov’Eva; Yong Hwan Kim; Kwang Soon Shin; Effects of structural peculiarities of carrageenans on their immunomodulatory and anticoagulant activities. Carbohydrate Polymers 2012, 87, 713-720, 10.1016/j.carbpol.2011.08.053.
  3. Ekaterina Sokolova; Anna O. Byankina; Alexandra A. Kalitnik; Yong H. Kim; Larisa N. Bogdanovich; Tamara F. Solov'eva; Irina M. Yermak; Influence of red algal sulfated polysaccharides on blood coagulation and platelets activationin vitro. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A 2013, 102, 1431-1438, 10.1002/jbm.a.34827.
  4. Tuhin Ghosh; Kausik Chattopadhyay; Manfred Marschall; Paramita Karmakar; Pinaki Mandal; Bimalendu Ray; Focus on antivirally active sulfated polysaccharides: From structure–activity analysis to clinical evaluation. Glycobiology 2008, 19, 2-15, 10.1093/glycob/cwn092.
  5. Gomaa, H.H.A.; Elshoubaky, G.A.; Antiviral Activity of Sulfated Polysaccharides Carrageenan from Some Marine Seaweeds. Int. J. Curr. Pharm. Rev. Res. 2016, 7, 34–42.
  6. Huamao Yuan; Jinming Song; Xuegang Li; Ning Li; Song Liu; Enhanced immunostimulatory and antitumor activity of different derivatives of κ-carrageenan oligosaccharides from Kappaphycus striatum. Journal of Applied Phycology 2010, 23, 59-65, 10.1007/s10811-010-9536-4.
  7. Lahaye, M.; Kaeffer, B.; Seaweed dietary fibres: Structure, physico-chemical and biological properties relevant to intestinal physiology. Sci. Aliment. 1997, 17, 563–584.
  8. Myra L. Weiner; Food additive carrageenan: Part II: A critical review of carrageenanin vivosafety studies. Critical Reviews in Toxicology 2014, 44, 244-269, 10.3109/10408444.2013.861798.
  9. Vipul D. Prajapati; Pankaj Maheriya; Girish K. Jani; Himanshu K. Solanki; RETRACTED: Carrageenan: A natural seaweed polysaccharide and its applications. Carbohydrate Polymers 2014, 105, 97-112, 10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.01.067.
  10. Pérez-Recalde, M.; Matulewicz, M.C.; Pujol, C.A.; Carlucci, M.J. In vitro and in vivo immunomodulatory activity of sulfated polysaccharides from red seaweed Nemalion helminthoides. Int. J. Biol. Macromol. 2014, 63, 38–42.
  11. Liu, Q.; Xu, S.; Li, L.; Pan, T.; Shi, C.L.; Liu, H.; Cao, M.; Su, W.; Liu, G. In vitro and in vivo immunomodulatory activity of sulfated polysaccharide from Porphyra haitanensis. Carbohydr. Polym. 2017, 165, 189–196.
  12. Arumugampillai Manimehalai Suganya; Muthusamy Sanjivkumar; Manohar Navin Chandran; Arunachalam Palavesam; Grasian Immanuel; Pharmacological importance of sulphated polysaccharide carrageenan from red seaweed Kappaphycus alvarezii in comparison with commercial carrageenan. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 2016, 84, 1300-1312, 10.1016/j.biopha.2016.10.067.
  13. E V Sokolova; A O Barabanova; V A Homenko; T F Solov'eva; R N Bogdanovich; Irina M. Yermak; In vitro and ex vivo studies of antioxidant activity of carrageenans, sulfated polysaccharides from red algae.. Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine 2011, 150, 426–428.
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