Toxicological evaluation of neoagarooligosaccharides prepared by enzymatic hydrolysis of agar
Agar, a heterogeneous polymer of galactose, is the main component of the cell wall of marine red algae. It is well established as a safe, non-digestible carbohydrate in Oriental countries. Although neoagarooligosaccharides (NAOs) prepared by the hydrolysis of agar by β-agarase have been reported to exert various biological activities, the safety of these compounds has not been reported to date. For safety evaluation, NAOs containing mainly neoagarotetraose and neoagarohexaose were prepared from agar by enzymatic hydrolysis using β-agarase DagA from Streptomyces coelicolor. Genotoxicity tests such as the bacterial reverse mutation assay, eukaryotic chromosome aberration assay, and in vivo micronucleus assay all indicated that NAOs did not exert any mutational effects. The toxicity of NAOs in rat and beagle dog models was investigated by acute, 14-day, and 91-day repeated oral dose toxicity tests. The results showed that NAO intake of up to 5,000 mg/kg body weight resulted in no significant changes in body weight, food intake, water consumption, hematologic and blood biochemistry parameters, organ weight, or clinical symptoms. Collectively, a no-observed-adverse-effect level of 5,000 mg/kg body weight/day for both male and female rats was established for NAO. These findings support the safety of NAO for possible use in food supplements and pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.