Cultivation of fractionated cells from a bioactive-alkaloid-bearing marine sponge Axinella sp.

Yuefan Song, Yi Qu, Xupeng Cao, Wei Zhang, Fuming Zhang, Robert J. Linhardt, Qi Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Sponges are among the most primitive multicellular organisms and well-known as a major source of marine natural products. Cultivation of sponge cells has long been an attractive topic due to the prominent evolutionary and cytological significance of sponges and as a potential approach to supply sponge-derived compounds. Sponge cell culture is carried out through culturing organized cell aggregates called ‘primmorphs.’ Most research culturing sponge cells has used unfractionated cells to develop primmorphs. In the current study, a tropical marine sponge Axinella sp., which contains the bioactive alkaloids, debromohymenialdisine (DBH), and hymenialdisine (HD), was used to obtain fractionated cells and the corresponding primmorphs. These alkaloids, DBH and HD, reportedly show pharmacological activities for treating osteoarthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. Three different cell fractions were obtained, including enriched spherulous cells, large mesohyl cells, and small epithelial cells. These cell fractions were cultivated separately, forming aggregates that later developed into different kinds of primmorphs. The three kinds of primmorphs obtained were compared as regards to appearance, morphogenesis, and cellular composition. Additionally, the amount of alkaloid in the primmorphs-culture system was examined over a 30-d culturing period. During the culturing of enriched spherulous cells and developed primmorphs, the total amount of alkaloid declined notably. In addition, the speculation of alkaloid secretion and some phenomena that occurred during cell culturing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-549
Number of pages11
JournalIn Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Animal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioactive alkaloids
  • Cell culture
  • Cell separation
  • Primmorphs
  • Sponge


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