Iranian South Medical Journal (Jul 2015)

Sea cucumbers, the ocean of bioactive compounds

  • Hadi Ebrahimi,
  • Gholamhosean Mohebbi,
  • Amir Vazirizadeh,
  • Iraj Nabipour,
  • Mahmoud Nafisi Bahabadi

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 18, no. 3
pp. 664 – 679


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Sea cucumbers are one of the most echinoderms and from the class Holothuroidea. Some of their specific biological activities are including anti-cancer, anticoagulant, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-atherosclerosis and anti-tumor properties, as well as accelerate wound healing. The presence of different compounds such as saponins, chondroitin sulfates, glycosaminoglycans, sulfated Polysaccharides, glycoprotein, glycosphingolipids and essential and non essential fatty acids, are the causes of their biological properties. Saponins, which are produced for compatibility with the environment, are as theire secondary metabolites. These active compounds have biological properties like hemolytic, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, ichthyotoxic, cytostatic, anti neogenic, antineoplastic, and uric acid lowering effects. Sea cucumber, have high economic value. In East Asia, Since ancient times, it have been traditionally used for the treatment of fatigue, sexual impotence, impotence caused by aging, constipation due to intestinal dryness, urinary incontinence, asthma, hypertension, arthritis and anemia. Also, toxins obtained from sea cucumber, have anti-viral, anti-tumor, anti-cancer and anti-pregnancy properties. According to literatures, the aqueous extract and high molecular weight compounds from sea cucumbers can inhibit tumor activity, via the apoptosis induction. Sea cucumbers because of the high percentage of protein and the absence of cholesterol, classified as an invigorating food. Because of different species of sea cucumbers in the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea the identification of compounds and biological properties of sea cucumber species in these regions is recommended to the researchers.