Carbohydrate polymers have long held a central place in dietary and therapeutic contexts, owing to their numerous biological functions. A recent groundbreaking study, published in “Carbohydrate Polymers,” has unveiled the significant health benefits of a specific carbohydrate polymer derived from sea cucumber—fucosylated chondroitin sulfate (fCS-Sc). This compound has been shown to effectively alleviate intestinal barrier injury and mitigate oxidative stress both in vitro and in vivo.

A Sea Cucumber Solution to Intestinal and Oxidative Woes

The sea cucumber, specifically the Stichopus chloronotus species, has been the subject of intense scientific scrutiny due to its rich composition of bioactive compounds. One such compound, fucosylated chondroitin sulfate, has garnered attention for its potential therapeutic applications. Researchers from Weifang Medical University, led by Yang Jie and including notable names such as Yin Huanan, Li Rui, Liu Jing, Sun Yanying, Zhao Lei, and Mou Jiaojiao, embarked on an explorative journey to decode the alleviative effects of fCSSc on intestinal barrier injury.

Insights from the In-Vitro and In-Vivo Studies

In their quest, the researchers utilized Caco-2 cells, a human epithelial colorectal adenocarcinoma line, to simulate the human intestinal barrier, and H2O2 to induce oxidative stress in vitro. The results demonstrated that fCS-Sc markedly protected the intestinal barrier functions and improved the antioxidant capacity of the cells.

To further corroborate these findings, the team conducted in vivo experiments on mice models. The animals subjected to fCS-Sc treatment showed a significant reduction in damage caused by oxidative stress, and their intestinal barrier integrity was immensely preserved compared to those that did not receive the treatment.

Mechanisms of Action – The Role of Nrf2 and KEAP1

At the molecular level, the study delves into the potential mechanisms underpinning these beneficial effects. The research posits that the activity of fCS-Sc may be linked to the activation of the NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway. Activation of this pathway leads to the transcription of various antioxidant response element (ARE)-driven genes that combat oxidative stress. Simultaneously, the modulation of the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1) – a negative regulator of Nrf2 – also emerges as a crucial action point for fCS-Sc.

Implications for Chemotherapy-Induced Side Effects

An interesting angle to this study addresses the current challenges faced in chemotherapy treatments, such as those involving cyclophosphamide. Patients often suffer from intestinal barrier damage and oxidative stress as side effects of such therapies. fCS-Sc’s potential in diminishing these detrimental side effects presents a promising avenue for enhancing chemotherapy protocols and patient well-being.

No Conflict of Interest Declared

Importantly, the research team states no conflicts of interest in this study, affirming the objectivity and reliability of their findings.

For the Scientific Community and Beyond

The publication details for this study – which appeared in the March 15, 2024, issue of “Carbohydrate Polymers” – are as follows:

DOI: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2023.121722

This research not only provides significant insights for the academic community but also opens up new therapeutic possibilities for the public. By tapping into the properties of naturally occurring compounds like fCS-Sc, the potential exists for the development of novel treatments for a range of conditions related to oxidative stress and intestinal health.


1. Fucosylated Chondroitin Sulfate
2. Sea Cucumber Benefits
3. Oxidative Stress Treatment
4. Intestinal Barrier Protection
4. Nrf2 Activation


1. Yin H., Li R., Liu J., Sun Y., Zhao L., Mou J., Yang J. (2023). Fucosylated chondroitin sulfate from sea cucumber Stichopus chloronotus alleviates intestinal barrier injury and oxidative stress damage in vitro and in vivo. “Carbohydrate Polymers,” 328, 121722. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2023.121722
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5. Liu X., Xiao C., Sun C., et al. (2015). The mechanism of antineoplastic and chemoprotective effects of fucoidan for galectin-3 in colorectal cancer: a review. “Carbohydrate Polymers,” 132, 297-306. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2015.06.072

By exploring the potential of marine-derived biopolymers like fCS-Sc, the study opens new doors to developing nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals aimed at fostering gastrointestinal health and mitigating the cellular impacts of oxidative stress. The findings of this study affirm the therapeutic promise of the natural substances found in our oceans and provide impetus for further research into the bounty of the sea as a source of human healing and wellness.