High Solubility and Bioavailability of Lobster Shell-Derived Calcium for Significantly Proliferating Bone and Skin Cells In Vitro

Trung T. Nguyen, Thanh Hoang, Tuyet Pham, Vi Khanh Truong, Xuan Luo, Jian Qin, Wei Zhang

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Shell wastes pose environmental and financial burdens to the shellfish industry. Utilizing these undervalued shells for commercial chitin production could minimize their adverse impacts while maximizing economic value. Shell chitin conventionally produced through harsh chemical processes is environmentally unfriendly and infeasible for recovering compatible proteins and minerals for value-added products. However, we recently developed a microwave-intensified biorefinery that efficiently produced chitin, proteins/peptides, and minerals from lobster shells. Lobster minerals have a calcium-rich composition and biologically originated calcium is more biofunctional for use as a functional, dietary, or nutraceutical ingredient in many commercial products. This has suggested a further investigation of lobster minerals for commercial applications. In this study, the nutritional attributes, functional properties, nutraceutical effects, and cytotoxicity of lobster minerals were analyzed using in vitro simulated gastrointestinal digestion combined with growing bone (MG-63), skin (HaCaT), and macrophage (THP-1) cells. The calcium from the lobster minerals was found to be comparable to that of a commercial calcium supplement (CCS, 139 vs. 148 mg/g). In addition, beef incorporated with lobster minerals (2%, w/w) retained water better than that of casein and commercial calcium lactate (CCL, 21.1 vs. 15.1 and 13.3%), and the lobster mineral had a considerably higher oil binding capacity than its rivals (casein and CCL, 2.5 vs. 1.5 and 1.0 mL/g). Notably, the lobster mineral and its calcium were far more soluble than the CCS (98.4 vs. 18.6% for the products and 64.0 vs. 8.5% for their calcium) while the in vitro bioavailability of lobster calcium was 5.9-fold higher compared to that of the commercial product (11.95 vs. 1.99%). Furthermore, supplementing lobster minerals in media at ratios of 15%, 25%, and 35% (v/v) when growing cells did not induce any detectable changes in cell morphology and apoptosis. However, it had significant effects on cell growth and proliferation. The responses of cells after three days of culture supplemented with the lobster minerals, compared to the CCS supplementation, were significantly better with the bone cells (MG-63) and competitively quick with the skin cells (HaCaT). The cell growth reached 49.9–61.6% for the MG-63 and 42.9–53.4% for the HaCaT. Furthermore, the MG-63 and HaCaT cells proliferated considerably after seven days of incubation, reaching 100.3% for MG-63 and 115.9% for HaCaT with a lobster mineral supplementation of 15%. Macrophages (THP-1 cells) treated for 24 h with lobster minerals at concentrations of 1.24–2.89 mg/mL had no detectable changes in cell morphology while their viability was over 82.2%, far above the cytotoxicity threshold (<70%). All these results indicate that lobster minerals could be used as a source of functional or nutraceutical calcium for commercial products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number358
Number of pages16
JournalMarine Drugs
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2023


  • bone health
  • lobster mineral
  • lobster shells
  • microwave-intensified extraction
  • multi-product biorefinery
  • nutraceutical calcium
  • value-added products
  • wound healing


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