Macroalgal protein hydrolysates from Palmaria palmata influence the ‘incretin effect’ in vitro via DPP-4 inhibition and upregulation of insulin, GLP-1 and GIP secretion

Christopher McLaughlin, Pádraigín A. Harnedy‐Rothwell, Ryan Lafferty, Shaun Sharkey, Parthsarathy V, Philip J Allsopp, Emeir M. McSorley, R Fitzgerald, Finbarr O'Harte

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Purpose: This study investigated metabolic benefits of protein hydrolysates from the macroalgae Palmaria palmata, previously shown to inhibit dipeptidylpeptidase-4 (DPP-4) activity in vitro. Methods: Previously, Alcalase/Flavourzyme-produced P. palmata protein hydrolysate (PPPH) improved glycaemia and insulin production in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. Here the PPPH, was compared to alternative Alcalase, bromelain and Promod-derived hydrolysates and an unhydrolysed control. All PPPH’s underwent simulated gastrointestinal digestion (SGID) to establish oral bioavailability. PPPH’s and their SGID counterparts were tested in pancreatic, clonal BRIN-BD11 cells to assess their insulinotropic effect and associated intracellular mechanisms. PPPH actions on the incretin effect were assessed via measurement of DPP-4 activity, coupled with GLP-1 and GIP release from GLUTag and STC-1 cells, respectively. Acute in vivo effects of Alcalase/Flavourzyme PPPH administration on glucose tolerance and satiety were assessed in overnight-fasted mice. Results: PPPH’s (0.02–2.5 mg/ml) elicited varying insulinotropic effects (p < 0.05–0.001). SGID of the unhydrolysed protein control, bromelain and Promod PPPH’s retained, or improved, bioactivity regarding insulin secretion, DPP-4 inhibition and GIP release. Insulinotropic effects were retained for all SGID-hydrolysates at higher PPPH concentrations. DPP-4 inhibitory effects were confirmed for all PPPH’s and SGID counterparts (p < 0.05–0.001). PPPH’s were shown to directly influence the incretin effect via upregulated GLP-1 and GIP (p < 0.01–0.001) secretion in vitro, largely retained after SGID. Alcalase/Flavourzyme PPPH produced the greatest elevation in cAMP (p < 0.001, 1.7-fold), which was fully retained post-SGID. This hydrolysate elicited elevations in intracellular calcium (p < 0.01) and membrane potential (p < 0.001). In acute in vivo settings, Alcalase/Flavourzyme PPPH improved glucose tolerance (p < 0.01–0.001) and satiety (p < 0.05–0.001). Conclusion: Bioavailable PPPH peptides may be useful for the management of T2DM and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4439-4452
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding was provided by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (IE) (Grant Nos. 11/F/063 and 11/F064 and 13/F536 and 14/F873) and Department of Education & Learning, Northern Ireland, PhD Studentship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • antidiabetic
  • dipeptidyl peptidase IV
  • dulse
  • Incretin secretion
  • Palmaria palmata
  • protein hydrolysate
  • type 2 diabetes


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