General Statement Research on high-polymer fucoidan

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What's Fucoidan

  • What is high-polymer fucoidan?
  • History of fucoidan research


  • The development trajectory of our fucoidan production technology
  • The Cadre of Professional Researchers for fucoidan


  • Academic papers
  • Application of Patents
  • Presentations at academic conferences
  • Joint research
  • Fucoidan Tsushin News Letter
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What is High-polymer fucoidan?

Chemical structure has not been determined.

Fucoidan is named by "International glucide naming agreement".

Its major components are fucose and sulfate, and sometimes includes galactose, mannose, xylose and uronic acid.

Fucoidan content is very high in brown sea algae, such as mozuku sea algae (Nemacystus decipiens), kombu kelp (Laminaria japonica), wakame seaweed (Undaria pinnatifida) and hijiki seaweed (Sargassum fusiforme).

Fucoidan is contained in some echinoderm as well.

About 100 years ago fucoidan was discovered by Prof. Kylin of Uppsala University, in Sweden.

However, the molecular architecture of fucoidan is different depending on species of brown sea algae, on its collection side, on collection season and on degree of growth.

Therefore, in over ten years since then, the chemical structure of fucoidan had still not been determined.

It was in the 1960s when reports on chemical structures of fucoidan increased.Chemical structure of most fucoidan is not determined, but as for the chemical structure of mozuku fucoidan, there are some reports including one done by the group of University of Ryukyus, Faculty of Agriculture.

According to these reports, it has been suggested that mozuku fucoidan is composed of repeating architectural unit (molecular weight about 1,000, 5 sugars) which is formed by 4 fucose, one glucuronic acid and two sulfate groups. 1)

Cross-section of Mozuku observed by electronic microscope.Through research, we ascertained that cells producing fucoidan exist near surface skin.

For further determination of the structure, Marine Products Kimuraya and Tottori University Faculty of Medicine are jointly researching on a 3 dimensional architecture of partial mozuku fucoidan.

Can low-polymer fucoidan be defined as fucoidan?

Generally, materials in which 2~9 pieces of saccharides are bound together are called oligosaccharides. Materials in which more than 10 saccharide are bound together are called polysaccharides, and high polymers, around more than 10,000 molecular weight. Therefore, high-polymer fucoidan portrays a polysaccharide of more than 10,000 molecular weight and low-molecular fucoidan, less than 10,000 molecular weight.

Fucoidan is reduced in molecular weight in the process of extraction from sea algae. Then molecular weight becomes less than about 2,000, the number of saccharides becomes less than 10, and the features of polysaccharide fucoidan is assumed to have been lost. Further, as the molecular weight becomes less than 1,000, it cannot keep the repeating architectural unit, and it is no longer considered fucoidan.

High-polymer fucoidan shows excellent functions

When we talk about fucoidan we should not forget that fucoidan is a type of dietary fiber.

Dietary fiber is a constituent included in plant food which is hardly digested in the human body, and many of them are polysaccharides.

Fucoidan is a type of dietary fiber which is not digested nor absorbed as nutrient in the human body.

It is thought that fucoidan is not a constituent that makes up the body.

For example, collagen (also polysaccharides) and glucosamine (monosaccharide) make up the body, and are absorbed as nutrients.

As for the mechanisms that provide excellent functions, the following hypothesis was suggested, and Marine Products Kimuraya R&D division and various research institutes are carrying out the research.

[1]There may be a mechanism which allows fucoidan to be absorbed exceptionally in the intestinal tracts, and the absorbed fucoidan provides excellent functions.

[2]Bacteria in the intestines utilize fucoidan and through the bacteria Fucoidan activates gut immunity, and provides remarkable functions.

To begin with, fucoidan is included in a high molecule state. Therefore, it is thought that fucoidan in a state similar to its natural state is useful to provide original functions.

[Sources] 1)"Science of sea algae fucoidan" by Nobuo Yamada, Seizando (2006).

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