Sponges are known to produce secondary metabolites that act as chemical defense mechanisms. Because the sponge is a sessile organism with a fragile body, it has limited capability to defend itself otherwise. The sponge’s secondary metabolites act as chemical weapons and can ward off dangers such as attacking predators or bacterial infections. One of these secondary metabolites, produced by sponges belonging to the order Verongida, is the compound Aeroplysinin.
Aeroplysinin has been studied in several biological systems in the lab for its potential use against human diseases. Recently, Park, et al has done studies that indicate aeroplysinin attenuates the Wnt/b-catenin signaling in DLD-1 colon cancer cells. b-Catenin is involved in the development and progression of colon cancer, and so it may make a useful target on which to focus therapeutics or chemopreventive agents. Experimental treatment of HEK293 cells with aeroplysinin decreased the amount of intracellular b-catenin, meaning that aeroplysinin may make a useful chemopreventive agent and should be further investigated for this use.
In addition to showing inhibition of colon cancer, other studies have found aeroplysinin to demonstrate antibiotic, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-angiogenic activities.
There are thousands of species of marine sponges alive today and each produces a unique set of secondary metabolites necessary for its own survival. Each of these secondary metabolites is a compound with some bioactivity that may provide a useful starting point for developing new compounds to battle human diseases.
Several compounds found in marine sponges are available from LKT Labs including:
Garcia-Vilas JA, Martinez-Poveda B, Quesada AR, Medina MA. Aeroplysinin-1, a sponge-derived multi-targeted bioactive marine drug. Mar Drugs. 2015 Dec 22;14(1):1. Doi: 10.3390/md14010001
Park S, Kim JH, Kim JE, et al. Cytotoxic activity of aeroplysinin-1 against colon cancer cells by promoting b-catenin degradation. Food Chem Toxicol. 2016 Jul;93:66-72. Doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2016.04.019