In vitro prebiotic and anti-colon cancer activities of agar-derived sugars from red seaweeds

Eun Ju Yun, Sora Yu, Young Ah Kim, Jing Jing Liu, Nam Joo Kang, Yong Su Jin, Kyoung Heon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Numerous health benefits of diets containing red seaweeds or agar-derived sugar mixtures produced by enzymatic or acid hydrolysis of agar have been reported. However, among various agar-derived sugars, the key components that confer health-beneficial effects, such as prebiotic and anti-colon cancer activities, remain unclear. Here, we prepared various agar-derived sugars by multiple enzymatic reactions using an endo-type and an exo-type of β-agarase and a neoagarobiose hydrolase and tested their in vitro prebiotic and anti-colon cancer activities. Among various agar-derived sugars, agarotriose exhibited prebiotic activity that was verified based on the fermentability of agarotriose by probiotic bifidobacteria. Furthermore, we demonstrated the anti-colon cancer activity of 3,6-anhydro-L-galactose, which significantly inhibited the proliferation of human colon cancer cells and induced their apoptosis. Our results provide crucial information regarding the key compounds derived from red seaweeds that confer beneficial health effects, including prebiotic and anti-colon cancer activities, to the host.

Original languageEnglish
Article number213
JournalMarine drugs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: We also acknowledge the support of a KU-FRG grant by Korea University and the facility support of the Institute of Biomedical and Food Safety at CJ Food Safety Hall, Korea University.

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by the Mid-career Researcher Program through the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea (2020R1A2B5B02002631); by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korea (20200367); by the Korea Institute of Planning and Evaluation for Technology in Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (iPET), funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (321036051SB010); and by the Brain Pool Program through the Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea (2019H1D3A2A01100327). N.J.K. was supported by a grant from the NRF of Korea (2018R1A2B6005972).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • 3,6-anhydro-L-galactose
  • Agarose
  • Agarotriose
  • Anti-colon cancer activity
  • Prebiotics
  • Red seaweeds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)


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