The demand for natural antioxidants to be used in food industry is increasing, as synthetic antioxidants are toxic and have high production costs. Specifically, food processing and preservation require antioxidants resistant to thermal sterilization processes. In this study, twenty-five strains among microalgae and cyanobacteria were screened as antioxidants producers. The species Enallax sp., Synechococcus bigranulatus and Galdieria sulphuraria showed the highest content of chlorophyll a and total carotenoids. In vitro stability and antioxidant activity of the ethanolic extracts were performed. The results revealed that pigments present in the extracts, obtained from the previously mentioned species, were stable at room temperature and exhibited in vitro free radical scavenging potential with IC50 values of 0.099 ± 0.001, 0.048 ± 0.001 and 0.13 ± 0.02 mg mL-1, respectively. Biocompatibility assay showed that the extracts were not toxic on immortalized cell lines. The antioxidant activity was also tested on a cell-based model by measuring intracellular ROS levels after sodium arsenite treatment. Noteworthy, extracts were able to exert the same protective effect, before and after the pasteurization process. Results clearly indicate the feasibility of obtaining biologically active and thermostable antioxidants from microalgae. Green solvents can be used to obtain thermo-resistant antioxidants from cyanobacteria and microalgae which can be used in the food industry. Thus, the substitution of synthetic pigments with natural ones is now practicable. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
- Natural antioxidants