Pharmacognosy Research

: 2010  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 45--49

Broad-spectrum sun-protective action of Porphyra-334 derived from Porphyra vietnamensis

Saurabh Bhatia1, K Sharma1, Ajay G Namdeo1, BB Chaugule2, M Kavale2, S Nanda3,  
1 Department of Pharmacognosy, Poona College of Pharmacy, Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune, India
2 Department of Botany, Pune University, Pune, India
3 Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, Haryana, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh Bhatia
Department of Pharmacognosy, Poona College of Pharmacy, Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune - 411 038, Maharashtra


There are enormous UV-protective compounds present in the current world market, out of which 98% give protection against UV-B range and the remaining 2% are potent against far UV-A range only. Furthermore, these synthetic compounds have various problems related to photo-stability and cross-stability. There is a vital need of sunscreen agents that will remain stable for prolonged periods and provide broad-spectrum protection against harmful UV range. The Indian Ocean contains large amounts of macro-algae which synthesize varied amount of mycosporine amino acids, «DQ»sun-protective compounds«DQ» by shikmic acid pathway. In the present study, we have evaluated the sunscreen protection provided by Porphyra-334, a mycosporine amino acid isolated from Indian sp. of Porphyra. Furthermore, the isolated compound was detected by high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) fingerprinting, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and ultraviolet (UV), whereas nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and infrared spectrometry were used for its structural characterization. Stability studies were performed under different storage and pH conditions. Ultimately a sunscreen formulation was developed and its potential against marketed Aloe vera gel was evaluated by in vitro sunscreen protection method. It was observed that sunscreen potential of Porphyra-334 was 5.11-fold greater than that of the marketed Aloe vera gel preparation.

How to cite this article:
Bhatia S, Sharma K, Namdeo AG, Chaugule B B, Kavale M, Nanda S. Broad-spectrum sun-protective action of Porphyra-334 derived from Porphyra vietnamensis.Phcog Res 2010;2:45-49

How to cite this URL:
Bhatia S, Sharma K, Namdeo AG, Chaugule B B, Kavale M, Nanda S. Broad-spectrum sun-protective action of Porphyra-334 derived from Porphyra vietnamensis. Phcog Res [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 Mar 7 ];2:45-49
Available from:

Full Text


Effects of ultraviolet (UV) irradiation on biological matter became an important issue over the past three decades. The term 'UV irradiation' is used to describe the UV region from 280 to 400 nm. Among this range, UV-B irradiation ('UV-B') is defined to occur in the region from 280 to 315 nm; UV-A irradiation ('UV-A'), from 315 to 400 nm; [1],[2],[3],[4],[ 5] and 'UV-C' irradiation, from 200 to 280 nm, which is totally absorbed by the atmosphere and therefore not of biological relevance. Under clear skies at temperate to equatorial latitudes, total UV-B nowadays may be as high as 7 to 8 W mK 2 ; and UV-A, as high as 45 to 50 W mK 2 , respectively. [6],[7],[8],[9] Day by day, man-made changes increase the harmful effects of UV radiation, which increases the demands of potent topical sun-screening agents to provide protective screen against these radiations. UV radiations are either reflected or absorbed by sunscreens. Sunscreen application is widely used for prevention of UV-induced sunburn, photo-aging and skin cancer. One of the key factors in evaluating the potential of sunscreens is sun protection factor (SPF), which is assessed by its ability to inhibit erythema 24 hours after exposure of the skin to UV light. [10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16] Longer wavelength is less effective in inducing erythema, i.e., approximately 1000 times more UV-A (315-400 nm) is needed to induce erythema as compared with UV-B (280-315 nm). UV-A generates oxygen and hydroxyl-free radicals, which can cause damage to cellular proteins, lipids and carbohydrates. It can also cause damage to the DNA, disturb the immune system and possibly lead to cancer. Majority of Indian sunscreen products available to consumers provide protection against UV-B and short-wavelength UV-A-II (315-340 nm). [17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24] Only a few synthesized compounds such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are broad-spectrum UV-A filters. These compounds are problematic in terms of their stability, i.e., photo-stability and cross-stability; hence the current Indian market requires the most compatible, stable and broad-spectrum compound which can provide a protective screening shield to the human skin.

Porphyra (Bangiales, Rhodophyta), delicious red algae widely consumed in eastern Asia, contains high levels of free amino acids; when exposed to intense radiations, it synthesizes UV-absorbing secondary metabolites such as mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs). MAAs are water-soluble substances characterized by a cyclohexenone chromophore conjugate having absorption maxima ranging from 309 to 360 nm. [25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31] The Indian Ocean comprises of a wide range of macro-algae, which have enormous unexplored therapeutic applications. [32],[33],[34] There are almost seven sp. of Porphyra identified in India. Among all of these, nowadays Porphyra vietnamensis are gaining more attention. Herein, we report the isolation, identification and stability studies of Porphyra-334 from Indian Porphyra, and its sun-screening potential was checked against one of the most widely used substances, viz., Aloe vera gel. [35],[36]

 Materials and Methods

The absorbing compound was isolated from Porphyra vietnamensis (Department of Botany, University of Pune, Maharashtra, India). The standard marketed Aloe vera gel was purchased from Brihans Natural Products (BH 045).

 Extraction and Isolation Procedure

Ten grams of dried algae was powdered. Extraction of the powder was carried out with a mixture of methanol-water (80:20, v/v), followed by CH 2 Cl 2 . The aqueous phase was lyophilized till dryness, to yield 5.1 g of a pale yellow powder. An aliquot of the powder was re-dissolved in 80% MeOH and checked for its UV absorbance. A sharp peak with an extinction coefficient of 42,300 M-1 cm-1 was obtained at 334 nm [Figure 1]. The resulting powder was chromatographed on a silica gel column, using a gradient condition ranging from 20% MeOH and 80% EtOH to 80% MeOH and 20% EtOH, to yield 400 mg of a pale yellow powder. The collected fractions were evaporated and then lyophilized till dryness to yield 50 mg of colorless powder. Purity of the isolated compound was confirmed by HPLC analysis, performed on a Jasco 900 instrument, and 5 µL of isolated fraction was loaded onto ODS (5 µm; Inertsil) column (150 x 4.6 mm). Acetonitrile:Water (45:55) was eluted at a flow rate of 1 mL/min, which showed a single sharp peak with a retention time of 4.9 minutes. The analysis was carried out on highly polar water-soluble compound that absorbs strongly in the UV-A region. Further analysis was done by HPTLC to know the exact position of isolated compound on the chromatogram. The spotting device was Linomat IV Automatic Sampler (Camag, Muttenz, Switzerland), 100 µL syringe (Hamilton Bonaduz, Switzerland). The TLC chamber; glass twin-trough chamber (20 x 10 x 4 cm) (Camag); TLC Scanner 3 linked to WINCATS software (Camag) as densitometer; the HPTLC plates measuring 20 x 10 cm, 0.2 mm thickness, pre-coated with silica gel 60 F254 (E. Merck Kga A, Cat. no. 1.05548, Darmstadt, Germany), were used. Structural characterization was done with the help of NMR spectroscopy and infrared spectrometry. Stability studies of isolated fraction were performed with different storage periods and pH conditions by using calibrated pH meter.

After performing stability studies, the isolated fraction was incorporated into gel and evaluated for sunprotective efficiency by utilizing simple and rapid in vitro sun protection determination method. [12] In this step, to 10 mL of water, 0.2 g of carbopol was added, followed by the addition of 50 mg of test sample. The solution formed was heated for 10 minutes at 60°C and kept for 24 hours in a dark place. Only one drop of triethanolamine was added to increase the gelation by cross-linking and pH balance. Marketed Aloe vera gel was randomly selected and compared with Porphyra gel by making different dilutions (25-100 µL/mL) in methanol. The absorbance of all aliquots was recorded at different values of nm with 5-nm intervals from 250 to 400 nm [Table 1] with UV spectrophotometer (UV-spectrophotometer: Jasco V 530, Jasco, Japan; and high-performance thin-layer chromatography: Jasco, Japan).

The SPF values were determined at wavelengths ranging from 290 to 400 nm. Each determination was made in triplicate (mean ± SD). The observed absorbance values were calculated according to the equation given below.

SPF = C.F.230ε320 EE (λ). Abs. (λ),

where CF = 10 (correction factor), EE (λ) = erythemogenic effect of radiation with wavelength l, Abs. (l) = spectrohotometric absorbance values of a solution at specific wavelength. [12]

 Results and Discussion

In the present study, MAA, known to be present in macro-algae of Porphyra vietnamensis, was isolated and detected by UV (334 nm), HPTLC (Rf- 0.43-0.53) fingerprinting and HPLC (R T 4.9) analysis [Figure 1],[Figure 2],[Figure 3]. In [Figure 1], methanolic aliquot showed the sharp peak at 334 nm with an extinction coefficient of 43200 M-1 cm-1 . Melting temperature of Porphyra-334 (164°C-165°C) was studied by DSC (differential scanning calorimeter). Structural characterization was done on the basis of 13 C-NMR and 1 H-NMR [Table 2], whereas IR studies gave the range of 3100, 1520, 1670, 1330 and 1100 cm-1 . Thereafter, stability studies of gel-loaded drug were performed under different pH and storage conditions simultaneously [Figure 4] and [Figure 5].

The stability of gel was studied under different pH and storage conditions. Porphyra-334 showed a little decrease in absorbance even after being maintained at room temperature for more than 3 months in low basic and acidic solutions.

Among all the MAAs involved in sun protection, Porphyra-334 synthesized in Indian Porphyra by shikmic acid pathway was found to be a very potent sunscreen compound. The isolated compound showed concentration (25-100 µL)-dependent increase in absorbances [Figure 6]. The absorbance values of methanolic aliquots of marketed Aloe vera gel containing marketed formulation and test product gel were used to calculate the in vitro sun protection factor using the erythemogenic effect values (EE values), which are applicable only for the UV-B. The isolated compound was found to have remarkable sun-protective property as compared to marketed formulation for UV range. It was observed that the SPF values of Porphyra gel were 5.11-fold greater than those of the marketed formulation. [Figure 6] shows that marketed Aloe vera gel had low absorption power over broad UV wavelength (250- 400 nm) as compared to isolated compound gel, suggesting that Porphyra-334 is more potent. This might be due to p-electron system (UV radiation absorbers) involved in the isolated compounds that are primarily found in conjugated bond structures. p-electron systems are a common theme in the function and characteristics of natural UV-screening molecules.


Various studies have proved that Porphyra-334 is widely present in the Indian sp. of Porphyra, and its formulation covers a broad UV range with no photo-stability and problems like those faced in case of other marketed formulations. This suggests that this sun-protective formulation constitutes the most prominent and potent amino acid which can in future become a promising molecule in UV-related dermatological ailments.


The authors are thankful to the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, New Delhi, for funding RGYI research project undertaken by Dr. A. G. Namdeo.


1McKenzie RL, Björn LO, Bais A, Ilyasad M. Changes in biologically active ultraviolet radiation reaching the earth's surface. Photochem Photobiol Sci 2003;2:5-15.
2Seidlitz HK, Thiel S, Krins A, Mayer H. Solar radiation at the Earth's surface. In: Giacomoni PU ed. Comprehensive Series in Photosciences, Vol: 3, Sun Protection in Man. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 2001. p. 705-38.
3Caldwell MM, Ballaré CL, Bornman JF, Flint SD, Björn LO, Teramura AH, et al. Terrestrial ecosystems, increased solar ultraviolet radiation and interactions with other climatic change factors. Photochem Photobiol Sci 2003;2:29-38.
4Larkum AW, Wood WF. The effect of UV-B radiation on photosynthesis and respiration of phytoplankton, benthic macro-algae and sea grasses. Photosynthesis Res 1993;36:17-23.
5Holzinger A, Lutz C. Algae and UV irradiation: Effects on ultrastructure and related metabolic functions. Micron 2006;37:190-207.
6Wang SQ, Setlow R, Berwick M, Polsky D, Marghoob AA, Kopf AW, et al. Ultraviolet A and melanoma: A review. J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;44:837-46.
7Hochberg M, Enk CD. Partial protection against epidermal IL- 10 transcription and langerhans cell depletion by sunscreens after exposure of human skin to UVB. Photochem Photobiol 1999;70:766-72.
8Lowe NJ, Shaath NA, Pathak MA. Sunscreens: Development, Evaluation and Regulatory Aspects. Dekker; New York; 1997. p.201-13.
9Nohynek GJ, Schaefer H. Benefit and Risk of Organic Ultraviolet Filters. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2001;33:285-99.
10Diffey BL, Tanner PR, Matts PJ, Nash JF. In vitro assessment of the broad spectrum ultraviolet protection of sunscreens products. J Am Acad Dermatol 2000;43:1024-35.
11Ichihashi M, Ueda M, Budiyanto A, Bito T, Oka M, Fukunaga M, et al. UV-induced skin damage. Toxicol 2003;189:21-39.
12Ashawat MS, Saraf S, Swarnlata S. Comparative sun protection factor determination of fresh Aloe vera gel vs marketed formulation. Indian J Pharm Educ Res 2008;42:4.
13Daniel S, Cornelia S, Fred Z. UV-A sunscreen from red algae for protection against pre-mature skin aging. Cosmet Toiletries Manufacture Worldwide. 2004:139-43.
14Kelly DA, Seed PT, Young AR, Walker SL. A commercial sunscreen's protection against ultraviolet radiation-induced immune-suppression is more than 50% lower than protection against sunburn in humans. J Invest Dermatol 2003;120:65-71.
15Maier H, Schauberger G, Brunnhofer K, Hönigsmann H. Change of ultraviolet absorbance of sunscreens by exposure to solar-simulated radiation. J Invest Dermatol 2001;117:256-62.
16Cockell CS, Knowland J. Ultraviolet Radiation Screening Compounds. Biol Rev1999;74:311-45.
17Whitehead K, Hedges JI. Analysis of mycosporine-like amino acids in plankton by liquid chromatography electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Mar Chem 2002;80:27-39.
18Sinha RP, Klisch M, Groniger A, Hader DP. Ultraviolet absorbing/screening substances in cyanobacteria, phytoplankton and macroalgae. J Photochem Photobiol B 1998;47:83-94.
19Ehling SM, Scherer S. UV protection in cyanobacteria. Eur J Phycol 1999;34:329-38.
20Bandaranayake WM. Mycosporines: Are they nature's sunscreens? Nat Prod Rep 1998;15:159-72.
21Conde FR, Churio MS, Previtali CM. The photoprotector mechanism of mycosporine-like amino acids. Excited state properties and photostability of Porphyra-334 in aqueous solution. J Photochem Photobiol B 2000;56:139-44.
22Takano S, Nakanishi A, Uemura D, Hirata U. Isolation and structure of a 334 nm UV-absorbing substance, Porphyra-334 from the red alga Porphyra tenera Kjelman. Chem Lett. 1979;26:419-20.
23Zhang Z, Gao X, Yuri T, Shingo M, Hiroo O. Researches on the Stability of Porphyra-334 Solution and its influence factors. J Ocean Univ China 2004;3:166-70.
24Pereira N, Kakode J, Dhargalkar VK. Factors affecting the occurrence of Porphyra vietnamensis Tanaka and Pham-Hoang Ho along the Goa coast. Current Sci 2005;88:3.
25Oren A, Gunde-Cimerman N. Mycosporines and mycosporine-like amino acids: UV protectants or multipurpose secondary metabolites? FEMS Microbiol Lett 2007;269:1-10.
26Klisch M, Häder DP. Mycosporine-like amino acids and marine toxins-The common and the different. Mar Drugs 2008;6:147-63.
27Dunlap WC, Yamamoto Y. Small-molecule antioxidant in marine organisms: Antioxidant activity of mycosporine-glycine. Comp Biochem Physiol 1995;112:105-14.
28Sinha RP, Klisch M, Groniger A, Hader DP. Mycosporine-like amino acids in the marine red alga Gracilaria cornea - Effects of UV and heat. Env Exp Bot 2000;43:33-43.
29Yuan YV, Westcott ND, Huc C, Kitts DD. Mycosporine-like amino acid composition of the edible red alga, Palmaria palmata (dulse) harvested from the west and east coasts of Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick. Food Chem 2008;112:321-8.
30Lowe NJ. An Overview of Ultraviolet Radiation, Sunscreens and Photo-Induced Dermatoses. Dermatol Clin 2006;24:9-7.
31Talarico L, Maranzana G. Light and adaptive responses in red macroalgae: An overview. J Photochem Photobiol B 2000;56:1-11.
32Van der LJ, Bornman JF. Environmental effects of ozone depletion: 1998 assessment. J Photochem Photobiol 1998;46:1-3.
33Gröniger A, Sinha RP, Klisch M, Häder DP. Photoprotective compounds in cyanobacteria, phytoplankton and macroalgae - A database. J Photochem Photobiol B 2000;58:115-22.
34Cardozo KH, Guaratini T, Barros MP, Falcão VR, Tonon AP, Lopes NP, et al. Metabolites from algae with economical impact. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol 2007;146:60-78.
35Sinha RP, Hader DP. UV-protectants in cyanobacteria. Plant Sci 2008;174:278-89.
36Tao C, Sugawara T, Maeda S, Wang X, Hirata T. Anti-oxidative activities of a mycosporine-like amino acid, Porphyra-334. Fisheries Sci 2008;74:1166-72.