Tisochrysis lutea, a golden Tahitian microalgae with beneficial properties

July 26, 2022

The origin and adaptability of Tisochrysis lutea, together with its composition rich in compounds of interest, make it a highly promising microalgae with extraordinary capabilities that will be a useful addition to cosmetic products for sensitive skin. Inspired by the potential of Tisochrysis lutea, Microphyt rose to the challenge of using it to create a unique oily active ingredient as part of an innovative comprehensive solution.

Tahiti, an idyllic but hostile environment

Tisochrysis lutea was first identified in the 1980s in French Polynesia. This idyllic place for humans is a hostile habitat for microorganisms like microalgae. Polynesia is composed of volcanic islands which sit on tectonic plates, leading to the release of high levels of acidity and phosphorus. The water around the islands is also high in salts and very warm, with an average temperature of around 29°C.

Singular characteristics

Tisochrysis lutea is a golden microalgae that belongs to the Isochrysidaceae family. In morphological terms, it is a haptophyte algae, in other words a single-cell algae with a plastid that is golden-brown in colour owing to the carotenoids that compose it. T. lutea has a very thin wall composed exclusively of sugars. It is circular in shape with a diameter of approximately 6µm. What makes T. lutea stand out is its remarkable adaptability. Despite its thin wall and sensitivity, its powerful metabolism has enabled it to adapt over the centuries to survive in the hostile environment of the Polynesian lagoon.

A unique composition with real potential for the cosmetic industry

Tisochrysis lutea contains a wide variety of natural molecules of interest: lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and pigments.

The main pigments are chlorophyll and carotenoids. T. lutea particularly contains a large quantity of fucoxanthin, which belongs to the carotenoid class, and more specifically the xanthophyll subclass. Xanthophylls, found in the chloroplasts of plant cells, offer protection against the harmful effects of excessive light and are involved in the photoprotection of the lipid membrane.

Fucoxanthin, which can only be found in the marine world, is a yellow pigment whose amphiphilic structure enables it to be integrated more effectively into the skin’s structure. When it comes to sensitive skin, fucoxanthin regulates the inflammation of the cells that structure the skin’s surface (keratinocytes), immune cells in the skin and also sensory neurons. More generally, fucoxanthin naturally restores the balance of all these skin cells (via homeostasis) in the event of an overactive inflammatory response in the skin. This action on multiple cells tackles the problem of sensitive skin by addressing the phenomenon in all its complexity.

Scientific research on this microalgae particularly focuses on long-chain fatty acids. T. lutea contains a large quantity of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which belong to the precious omega-3 family. From a cosmetic viewpoint, these compounds are of interest because they offer the skin a source of lipids that are vital in strengthening the extracellular matrix – the supporting network that boosts the skin’s firmness.

T. lutea also produces phytosterols that complement the action of omega-3s. These plant sterols have similarities with the cholesterol in the skin, which helps maintain cell integrity. Research has shown that the sterols offer an anti-ageing effect by activating the production of collagen 1 and 2 and reducing the expression of pro-inflammatory mediators (interleukin-6) and the enzymes involved in the degradation of the extracellular matrix (MMP1).

Microphyt was keen to explore the potential of this unique microalgae and was able to extract a precious oil with standardised fucoxanthin content and also containing powerful compounds such as omega-3s and sterols.

With its unique, rare and powerful composition, Luteana™ is a comprehensive solution to rebalance and soothe sensitive skin.

To find out more about our new active ingredient, click here.