Astaxanthin, a carotenoid without vitamin A activity, has shown anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities; however, its molecular action and mechanism have not been elucidated. We examined in vitro and in vivo regulatory function of astaxanthin on production of nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) as well as expression of inducible NO synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase-2, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta). Astaxanthin inhibited the expression or formation production of these proinflammatory mediators and cytokines in both lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 cells and primary macrophages. Astaxanthin also suppressed the serum levels of NO, PGE2, TNF-alpha, and IL-1beta in LPS-administrated mice, and inhibited NF-kappaB activation as well as iNOS promoter activity in RAW264.7 cells stimulated with LPS. This compound directly inhibited the intracellular accumulation of reactive oxygen species in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells as well as H2O2-induced NF-kappaB activation and iNOS expression. Moreover, astaxanthin blocked nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB p65 subunit and I(kappa)B(alpha) degradation, which correlated with its inhibitory effect on I(kappa)B kinase (IKK) activity. These results suggest that astaxanthin, probably due to its antioxidant activity, inhibits the production of inflammatory mediators by blocking NF-kappaB activation and as a consequent suppression of IKK activity and I(kappa)B-alpha degradation.

The body of medical research on Astaxanthin is fast approaching critical mass for several diverse applications. Over the last decade in particular, the amount of studies done by private researchers and universities throughout the world has escalated. The intense interest in undertaking new research on Astaxanthin is a direct result of the remarkable qualities of this fascinating molecule. Cyanotech Corporation* feels that it is important to have a library of this research available for interested persons; hence we have created this document. Below the reader will find selected research abstracts on the health benefits of Astaxanthin. It was not practical to include full studies due to the substantial amount of literature available; however, with these abstracts, the reader will obtain a working knowledge of potential applications for Astaxanthin in human nutrition. The abstracts are presented according to health benefit as noted in the table of contents. In the case of studies that focused on more than one health benefit, the study is categorized according to the primary area of research within the abstract.

We evaluated the effects of astaxanthin, a red carotenoid, on accommodation, critical flicker fusion (CFF), and pattern visual evoked potential (PVEP) in visual display terminal (VDT) workers. As controls, 13 non-VDT workers received no supplementation (Group A). Twenty-six VDT workers were randomized into 2 groups: Group B consisted of 13 subjects who received oral astaxanthin, 5 mg/day, for 4 weeks, and Group C consisted of 13 subjects who received an oral placebo, 5 mg/day, for 4 weeks. No significant difference in age was noted among the 3 groups. A double-masked study was designed in Groups B and C. Accommodation amplitude in Group A was 3.7± 1.5 diopters. Accommodation amplitudes (2.3±1.4 and 2.2±1.0 diopters) in Groups B and C before supplementation were significantly (p<0.05) lower than in Group A. Accommodation amplitude (2.8±1.6 diopters) in Group B after astaxanthin treatment was significantly (p<0.01) larger than before supplementation, while accommodation amplitude (2.3±1.1 diopters) in Group C after placebo supplementation was unchanged. The CFFs and amplitude and latency of P100 in PVEP in Group A were 45.0±4.2 Hz, 6.5±1.8µV, and 101.3±6.5 msec, respectively. The CFFs in Groups B and C before supplementation were significantly (p<0.05) lower than in Group A. The CCFs in Groups B and C did not change after supplementation. Amplitudes and latencies of P100 in PVEP in Groups B and C before supplementation were similar to those in Group A and did not change after supplementation. Findings of the present study indicated that accommodation amplitude improved after astaxanthin supplementation in VDT workers.

The formation and accumulation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) is a key pathophysiological process involved in various diabetic complications such as diabetic retinopathy. In the present study, for the first time, protective effects of three microalgal strains, including their extracts and active compounds, against both endogenous and exogenous AGEs in cell-based models were investigated. Results showed that in cultured human-derived retinal pigment epithelial ARPE-19 cells, the extract of Chlorella zofingiensis and its nutritional ingredient astaxanthin exhibited significant inhibitory effects on the formation of endogenous N(e)-carboxymethyllysine (CML), a key AGE representative, through the suppression of intracellular oxidative stress. On the other hand, extracts of Chlorella zofingiensis, Chlorella protothecoides and Nitzschia laevis as well as their nutritional ingredients, namely astaxanthin, lutein and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), attenuated the deleterious effects induced by exogenous AGEs, such as cell proliferation and mRNA upregulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-2, which are critical steps involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy. These results suggested the positive roles of astaxanthin, lutein and EPA in controlling the development of diabetes. These microalgae, therefore, might be regarded as beneficial foods and preventive agent choices for patients with diabetic retinopathy.

Astaxanthin is a biological antioxidant naturally found in a wide variety of aquatic living organisms, and has shown various pharmacological activities, such as anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic activities. A recent study reported that the administration of astaxanthin induced a significant reduction in blood pressure and delayed the incidence of stroke in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats, suggesting that astaxanthin also has antihypertensive effect. In a study using aortic rings of spontaneously hypertensive rats, astaxanthin induced a significant reduction of the contractile responses of the aorta to a-adrenergic receptor agonist and angiotensin II, which may contribute to the antihypertensive effect of astaxanthin. In a histopathological study, astaxanthin decreased coronary artery wall thickness compared with the control, indicating the possibility that astaxanthin ameliorates hypertension-induced vascular remodeling. Astaxanthin has anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antihypertensive, and antioxidative activities; therefore, we should perform further studies to elucidate an antiatherogenic effect of astaxanthin.

Dietary antioxidants may attenuate oxidative damage from strenuous exercise in various tissues. Beneficial effects of the antioxidant astaxanthin have been demonstrated in vitro, but not yet in vivo. We investigated the effect of dietary supplementation with astaxanthin on oxidative damage induced by strenuous exercise in mouse gastrocnemius and heart. C57BL/6 mice (7 weeks old) were divided into groups: rested control, intense exercise, and exercise with astaxanthin supplementation. After 3 weeks of exercise acclimation, both exercise groups ran on a treadmill at 28 m/min until exhaustion. Exercise-increased 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal-modified protein and 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine in gastrocnemius and heart were blunted in the astaxanthin group. Increases in plasma creatine kinase activity, and in myeloperoxidase activity in gastrocnemius and heart, also were lessened by astaxanthin. Astaxanthin showed accumulation in gastrocnemius and heart from the 3 week supplementation. Astaxanthin can attenuate exercise-induced damage in mouse skeletal muscle and heart, including an associated neutrophil infiltration that induces further damage.

Intracellular redox balance may affect nutrient metabolism in skeletal muscle. Astaxanthin, a carotenoid contained in various natural foods, exerts high antioxidative capacity in the skeletal muscles. The present study investigated the effect of astaxanthin on muscle lipid metabolism in exercise. ICR mice (8 weeks old) were divided into four different groups: sedentary, sedentary treated with astaxanthin, running exercise, and exercise treated with astaxanthin. After 4 weeks of treatment, exercise groups performed treadmill running. Astaxanthin increased fat utilization during exercise compared with mice on a normal diet with prolongation of the running time to exhaustion. Colocalization of fatty acid translocase with carnitine palmitoyltransferase I (CPT I) in skeletal muscle was increased by astaxanthin. We also found that hexanoyl-lysine modification of CPT I was increased by exercise, while astaxanthin prevented this increase. In additional experiment, we found that astaxanthin treatment accelerated the decrease of body fat accumulation with exercise training. Our results suggested that astaxanthin promoted lipid metabolism rather than glucose utilization during exercise via CPT I activation, which led to improvement of endurance and efficient reduction of adipose tissue with training.

The present study was designed to determine the effect of astaxanthin on endurance capacity in male mice aged 4 weeks. Mice were given orally either vehicle or astaxanthin (1.2, 6, or 30 mg/kg body weight) by stomach intubation for 5 weeks. The astaxanthin group showed a significant increase in swimming time to exhaustion as compared to the control group. Blood lactate concentration in the astaxanthin groups was significantly lower than in the control group. In the control group, plasma non-esterfied fatty acid (NEFA) and plasma glucose were decreased by swimming exercise, but in the astaxanthin group, NEFA and plasma glucose were significantly higher than in the control group. Astaxanthin treatment also significantly decreased fat accumulation. These results suggest that improvement in swimming endurance by the administration of astaxanthin is caused by an increase in utilization of fatty acids as an energy source.


Astaxanthin is a red-pigment carotenoid found in certain marine animals and plants. Astaxanthin has been shown to inhibit matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) expression in vitro. However, the effect of astaxanthin on cartilage is still unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of astaxanthin on cartilage in experimental osteoarthritis (OA).


New Zealand rabbits underwent anterior cruciate ligament transection to induce OA in right knee. Rabbits received intra-articular injection containing 0.3 ml of vehicle (dimethyl sulfoxide) or astaxanthin (50 µM). Injection was started on the day of operation, and the injection were performed once weekly for six consecutive weeks. Then, rabbits were sacrificed and the right knees were harvested for study.


Cartilage degradation was reduced by astaxanthin, as assessed by morphological and histological examination. Astaxanthininhibited the gene expression of MMP-1, MMP-3, and MMP-13 in cartilage as compared with the vehicle group.


The results suggest that astaxanthin may be considered as pharmaceutical agent in OA treatment.

Prostate cancer (PCa), the most common malignancy in men, is a major cause of cancer deaths. A better understanding of the mechanisms that drive tumor initiation and progression may identify actionable targets to improve treatment of this patient group. As a dietary carotenoid, astaxanthin has been demonstrated to exert beneficial effects against inflammation, cardiovascular disease, oxidative damage, or different cancer sites. This study used intragastric administration of astaxanthin to detect its role on tumor proliferation, apoptosis, microRNA (miRNA) overexpression, and microbacteria composition change by establishing androgen-independent PCa cell PC-3 xenograft nude mice. Nude mice were inoculated with androgen-independent prostate cancer PC-3 cells subcutaneously. The intervention was started when tumors reached 0.5-0.6 cm in diameter. Mice were intragastrically administered 100 mg/kg astaxanthin (HA), 25 mg/kg astaxanthin (LA), or olive oil (TC). The results showed that 100 mg/kg astaxanthin significantly inhibited tumor growth compared to the TC group, with an inhibitory rate of 41.7%. A decrease of Ki67 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) as well as an increase of cleaved caspase-3 were observed in HA-treated tumors, along with increasing apoptotic cells, obtained by TUNEL assay. The HA significantly elevated the levels of tumor suppressors miR-375 and miR-487b in tumor tissues and the amount of Lactobacillus sp. and Lachnospiraceae in mice stools, while there was no significant difference between LA and TC groups. These results provide a promising regimen to enhance the therapeutic effect in a dietary supplement manner.

Astaxanthin (AST), a carotenoid molecule extensively found in marine organisms and increasingly used as a dietary supplement, has been reported to have beneficial effects against oxidative stress. In the current paper, the effects of AST on viability of prostate cells were investigated by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay; cell apoptosis and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels were determined by flow cytometry; the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) was measured by fluorospectrophotometer; and activities of malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) were evaluated by a detection kit. The results show that copper ion (Cu2+) induced apoptosis, along with the accumulation of intracellular ROS and MDA, in both prostate cell lines (RWPE-1 and PC-3). AST treatments could decrease the MDA levels, increase MMP, and keep ROS stable in RWPE-1 cell line. An addition of AST decreased the SOD, GSH-Px, and CAT activities in PC-3 cell line treated with Cu2+, but had a contrary reaction in RWPE-1 cell lines. In conclusion, AST could contribute to protecting RWPE-1 cells against Cu2+-induced injuries but could cause damage to the antioxidant enzyme system in PC-3 cells.t beer farm-to-table, raw denim aesthetic synth nesciunt you probably haven't heard of them accusamus labore sustainable VHS.

The ketocarotenoid astaxanthin can be found in the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis, Chlorella zo?ngiensis, and Chlorococcum sp., and the red yeast Phaf?a rhodozyma. The microalga H. pluvialis has the highest capacity to accumulate astaxanthin up to 4–5% of cell dry weight. Astaxanthin has been attributed with extraordinary potential for protecting the organism against a wide range of diseases, and has considerable potential and promising applications in human health. Numerous studies have shown that astaxanthin has potential health-promoting effects in the prevention and treatment of various diseases, such as cancers, chronic in?ammatory diseases, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, diabetic nephropathy, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, liver diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, eye diseases, skin diseases, exercise-induced fatigue, male infertility, and HgCl2-induced acute renal failure. In this article, the currently available scientific literature regarding the most significant activities of astaxanthin is reviewed


Astaxanthin modulates immune response, inhibits cancer cell growth, reduces bacterial load and gastric inflammation, and protects against UVA-induced oxidative stress in in vitro and rodent models. Similar clinical studies in humans are unavailable. Our objective is to study the action of dietary astaxanthin in modulating immune response, oxidative status and inflammation in young healthy adult female human subjects.


Participants (averaged 21.5 yr) received 0, 2, or 8 mg astaxanthin (n = 14/diet) daily for 8 wk in a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Immune response was assessed on wk 0, 4 and 8, and tuberculin test performed on wk 8.


Plasma astaxanthin increased (P < 0.01) dose-dependently after 4 or 8 wk of supplementation. Astaxanthin decreased a DNA damage biomarker after 4 wk but did not affect lipid peroxidation. Plasma C-reactive protein concentration was lower (P < 0.05) on wk 8 in subjects given 2 mg astaxanthin. Dietary astaxanthin stimulated mitogen-induced lymphoproliferation, increased natural killer cell cytotoxic activity, and increased total T and B cell subpopulations, but did not influence populations of Thelper, Tcytotoxic or natural killer cells. A higher percentage of leukocytes expressed the LFA-1 marker in subjects given 2 mg astaxanthin on wk 8. Subjects fed 2 mg astaxanthin had a higher tuberculin response than unsupplemented subjects. There was no difference in TNF and IL-2 concentrations, but plasma IFN-gamma and IL-6 increased on wk 8 in subjects given 8 mg astaxanthin.


Therefore, dietary astaxanthin decreases a DNA damage biomarker and acute phase protein, and enhances immune response in young healthy females.

The singlet oxygen quenching activities among common hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidants such as polyphenols, tocopherols, carotenoids, ascorbic acid, coenzyme Q10 and a-lipoic acid were recorded under the same test condition: the chemiluminescence detection system for direct 1O2 counting using the thermodissociable endoperoxides of 1,4-dimethylnaphthalene as 1O2 generator in DMF : CDCl3 (9 : 1). Carotenoids exhibited larger total quenching rate constants than other antioxidants, with astaxanthin showing the strongest activity. a-Tocopherol and a-lipoic acid showed considerable activities, whereas the activities of ascorbic acid, CoQ10 and polyphenols were only slight; these included capsaicin, probucol, edaravon, BHT and Trolox. This system has the potential of being a powerful tool to evaluate the quenching activity against singlet oxygen for various hydrophilic and lipophilic compounds.

Astaxanthin (ASX), a red carotenoid pigment with no pro-vitamin A activity, is a biological antioxidant that occurs naturally in a wide variety of plants, algae and seafoods. This study investigated whether ASX could inhibit glycated protein/iron chelate-induced toxicity in human umbilical-vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) by interfering with ROS generation in these cells. Glycated fetal bovine serum (GFBS) was prepared by incubating fetal bovine serum (FBS) with highconcentration glucose. Stimulation of cultured HUVECs with 50 mm 1 mL of GFBS significantly enhanced lipid peroxidation and decreased antioxidant enzyme activities and levels of phase II enzymes. However, preincubation of the cultures with ASX resulted in a marked decrease in the level of lipid peroxide (LPO) and an increase in the levels of antioxidant enzymes in an ASX concentration-dependent manner. These results demonstrate that ASX could inhibit LPO formation and enhance the antioxidant enzyme status in GFBS/iron chelate-exposed endothelial cells by suppressing ROS generation, thereby limiting the effects of the AGE-RAGE interaction. The results indicate that ASX could have a beneficial role against glycated protein/iron chelate-induced toxicity by preventing lipid and protein oxidation and increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes.

The effects of the carotenoids beta-carotene and astaxanthin on the peroxidation of liposomes induced by ADP and Fe(2+) were examined. Both compounds inhibited production of lipid peroxides, astaxanthin being about 2-fold more effective than beta-carotene. The difference in the modes of destruction of the conjugated polyene chain between beta-carotene and astaxanthin suggested that the conjugated polyene moiety and terminal ring moieties of the more potent astaxanthin trapped radicals in the membrane and both at the membrane surface and in the membrane, respectively, whereas only the conjugated polyene chain of beta-carotene was responsible for radical trapping near the membrane surface and in the interior of the membrane. The efficient antioxidant activity of astaxanthin is suggested to be due to the unique structure of the terminal ring moiety. VHS.

Astaxanthin, a natural and nutritional red carotenoid pigment, is used as a dietary supplement. The intention of the present study was to investigate the beneficial effects of dietary pigment astaxanthin, against cyclophosphamide-induced oxidative stress and DNA damage. The end points of evaluation of the study included: (a) malondialdehyde, glutathione and superoxide dismutase concentration in liver to detect oxidative stress; (b) normal and modified alkaline comet assays (the latter includes lesion-specific enzymes formamidopyrimidineDNA glycosylase and endonuclease-III) to detect normal and oxidative stressinduced DNA damage by cyclophosphamide in the mouse bone marrow and the peripheral blood lymphocytes. In addition, micronucleus assay and chromosomal aberration test capable of detecting the DNA damage were also carried out in peripheral blood and bone marrow of mice. Cyclophosphamide (100 mg/kg intraperitoneal) treatment led to significant increase in liver malondialdehyde and decreased the antioxidant enzymes glutathione and superoxide dismutase. Further, cyclophosphamide also significantly increased the DNA damage as observed from normal and modified comet assays as well as micronucleus and chromosomal aberration assay. Pre-treatment with astaxanthin (12.5, 25 and 50 mg/kg/day for 5 days per oral) resulted in the restoration of oxidative stress markers such as malondialdehyde, glutathione and superoxide dismutase in liver. The amelioration of oxidative stress with astaxanthin pre-treatment correlated well with the decreased DNA damage as evident from normal and modified alkaline comet assays of bone marrow cells and peripheral blood lymphocytes. Further astaxanthin pre-treatment also reduced the frequency of chromosomal breakage and micronucleus formation in the mouse bone marrow cells and peripheral blood reticulocytes. It is thus concluded that pre-treatment with astaxanthin attenuates cyclophosphamide-induced oxidative stress and subsequent DNA damage in mice and it can be used as a chemoprotective agent against the toxicity of anticancer drug cyclophosphamide.

The antioxidant activities of astaxanthin and related carotenoids have been measured by employing a newly developed fluorometric assay. This assay is based on 4,4-difluoro-3,5-bis(4-phenyl-1, 3-butadienyl)-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-sindacene (BODIPY 665/676) as an indicator; 2,2'-azobis-2,4- dimethylvaleronitrile (AMVN) as a peroxyl radical generator; and 6-hydroxy- 2,5,7, 8-tetramethylchroman-2-carboxylic acid (Trolox) as a calibrator in an organic and liposomal media. By employing this assay, three categories of carotenoids were examined: namely, the hydrocarbon carotenoids lycopene, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene; the hydroxy carotenoid lutein; and the alphahydroxy-ketocarotenoid astaxanthin. The relative peroxyl radical scavenging activities of Trolox, astaxanthin, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, and alpha-carotene in octane/butyronitrile (9:1, v/v) were determined to be 1.0, 1.0, 1.3, 0.5, 0.4, 0.3, and 0.2, respectively. In dioleoylphosphatidyl choline (DOPC) liposomal suspension in Tri-HCl buffer (pH 7.4 at 40 degrees C), the relative reactivities of astaxanthin, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, and lutein were found to be 1.00, 0.9, 0.6, and 0.6, respectively. When BODIPY 665/676 was replaced by 4,4-difluoro-5-(4-phenyl-1,3-butadienyl)-4-bora-3a, 4a-diaza-sindacene-3-undecanoic acid (BODIPY 581/591 C(11)) as an indicator, astaxanthin showed the highest antioxidant activity toward peroxyl radicals. The relative reactivities of Trolox, astaxanthin, alpha-tocopherol, alpha-carotene, lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene were determined to be 1.0, 1.3, 0.9, 0.5, 0.4, 0.2, and 0.4, respectively.

Mitochondria combine the production of energy with an efficient chain of reduction-oxidation (redox) reactions but also with the unavoidable production of reactive oxygen species. Oxidative stress leading to mitochondrial dysfunction is a critical factor in many diseases, such as cancer and neurodegenerative and lifestyle-related diseases. Effective antioxidants thus offer great therapeutic and preventive promise. Investigating the efficacy of antioxidants, we found that a carotenoid, astaxanthin (AX), decreased physiologically occurring oxidative stress and protected cultured cells against strong oxidative stress induced with a respiratory inhibitor. Moreover, AX improved maintenance of a high mitochondrial membrane potential and stimulated respiration. Investigating how AX stimulates and interacts with mitochondria, a redox-sensitive fluorescent protein (roGFP1) was stably expressed in the cytosol and mitochondrial matrix to measure the redox state in the respective compartments. AX at nanomolar concentrations was effective in maintaining mitochondria in a reduced state. Additionally, AX improved the ability of mitochondria to remain in a reduced state under oxidative challenge. Taken together, these results suggest that AX is effective in improving mitochondrial function through retaining mitochondria in the reduced state.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of Astaxanthin on enhancing the function of antioxidative damage in osteoblast. METHODS: MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts were randomly divided into five groups, including control group, model group, Astaxanthin group [lowdose (1 x 10(-7) mol/L), middle-dose (1 x 10(-6) mol/L), high-dose (1 x 10(-5) mol/L)], in which the activity of cells, activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), the content of reactive oxygen species (ROS), lipid oxygen (LPO) and membrane fluidity were tested and compared. RESULTS: Compared with Astaxanthin groups, the activity of cells, SOD activity and membrane fluidity in the model group were significantly decreased (P < 0.01). However, the contents of ROS and LPO were significantly raised (P < 0.01). CONCLUSION: H2O2 can cause oxidative damage of MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts, but Astaxanthin can prevent or decrease its influence.

Reactive oxygen species are implicated as mediators of tissue damage in the acute renal failure induced by inorganic mercury. Astaxanthin (ASX), a carotenoid with potent antioxidant properties, exists naturally in various plants, algae, and seafoods. This paper evaluated the ability of ASX to prevent HgCl(2) nephrotoxicity. Rats were injected with HgCl(2) (0 or 5 mg/kg b.w., sc) 6h after ASX had been administered (0, 10, 25, or 50mg/kg, by gavage) and were killed 12h after HgCl(2) exposure. Although ASX prevented the increase of lipid and protein oxidation and attenuated histopathological changes caused by HgCl(2) in kidney, it did not prevent creatinine increase in plasma and delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase inhibition induced by HgCl(2). Glutathione peroxidase and catalase activities were enhanced, while superoxide dismutase activity was depressed in HgCl(2)-treated rats when compared to control and these effects were prevented by ASX. Our results indicate that ASX could have a beneficial role against HgCl(2) toxicity by preventing lipid and protein oxidation, changes in the activity of antioxidant enzymes and histopathological changes.

When the conjugated keto-carotenoids, either astaxanthin or canthaxanthin, are added to rat liver microsomes undergoing radical-initiated lipid peroxidation under air, they are as effective as alpha-tocopherol in inhibiting this process. This contrasts with the effect of beta-carotene, which is a much less potent antioxidant when added in this system, without the addition of other antioxidants.

The ability of xanthophylls (canthaxanthin, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin) as chainbreaking antioxidants was investigated in peroxyl radical-mediated peroxidation of phosphatidylcholine (PC) liposomes under atmospheric conditions using lipidsoluble and water-soluble radical generators. These xanthophylls retarded the chain propagation reaction of phosphatidylcholine hydroperoxides (PC-OOH) formation, although their activities to trap chain-carrying peroxyl radical were much less than that of alpha-tocopherol. In chick plasma studies, it was observed that endogenious xanthophylls participated in the antioxidant defenses against the attack of aqueous peroxyl radical. It was concluded that xanthophylls possess the ability to act as chain-breaking antioxidants in the peroxidation of membraneous phospholipids. Dietary xanthophylls may, therefore, be helpful in resisting membraneous phospholipids against oxidative damage in vivo

The value of astaxanthin, a carotenoid pigment, in the treatment of oxidative injury is assessed. Astaxanthin protects the mitochondria of vitamin E-deficient rats from damage by Fe2(+)-catalyzed lipid peroxidation both in vivo and in vitro. The inhibitory effect of astaxanthin on mitochondrial lipid peroxidation is stronger than that of alpha-tocopherol. Thin layer chromatographic analysis shows that the change in phospholipid components of erythrocytes from vitamin Edeficient rats induced by Fe2+ and Fe3(+)-xanthine/xanthine oxidase system was significantly suppressed by astaxanthin. Carrageenan-induced inflammation of the paw is also significantly inhibited by administration of astaxanthin. These data indicate that astaxanthin functions as a potent antioxidant both in vivo and in vitro.

The effect of the antioxidant activity of beta-carotene and related carotenoids on the free radical-oxidation of methyl linoleate in solution was examined by measuring the production of methyl linoleate hydroperoxides. Canthaxanthin and astaxanthin which possess oxo groups at the 4 and 4'-positions in the beta-ionone ring retarded the hydroperoxide formation more efficiently than beta-carotene and zeaxanthin which possess no oxo groups. The rates of autocatalytic oxidation of canthaxanthin and astaxanthin were also slower than those of beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. These results suggest that canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are more effective antioxidants than beta-carotene by stabilizing the trapped radicals.

Astaxanthin, one of the dominant carotenoids in marine animals, showed both a strong quenching effect against singlet oxygen, and a strong scavenging effect against free radicals. These effects are considered to be defense mechanisms in the animals for attacking these active oxygen species. The activities of astaxanthin are approximately 10 times stronger than those of other carotenoids that were tested, namely zeaxanthin, lutein, tunaxanthin, canthaxanthin and ß- carotene, and 100 times greater than those of a tocopherol. Astaxanthin also showed strong activity as an inhibitor of lipid peroxidation mediated by these active forms of oxygen. From these results, astaxanthin has a the properties of a “SUPER VITAMIN E”.

Astaxanthin (ASTX), a carotenoid with potent antioxidant properties, exists naturally in various plants, algae, and seafoods. In this study, we investigated the in vitro ability of ASTX to protect porcine lens crystallins from oxidative damage by iron-mediated hydroxyl radicals or by calcium ion-activated protease (calpain), in addition to the possible underlying biochemical mechanisms. ASTX (1 mM) was capable of protecting lens crystallins from being oxidized, as measured by changes in tryptophan fluorescence, in the presence of a Fenton reaction solution containing 0.2 mM Fe2+ and 2 mM H2O2. Sodium dodecyl sulfatepolyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis demonstrated that beta(high)- crystallin was the most vulnerable protein under these conditions of free radical exposure. The proteolysis of lens crystallins induced by calcium ion-activated calpain was also inhibited by ASTX (0.03-1 mM) as determined by daily measurement of the light-scattering intensity at 405 nm for five consecutive days. ASTX at 1 mM was as potent as a concentration of 0.1 mM calpain inhibitor E64 in protecting the oxidative damage/hydrolysis of porcine crystallins. At a concentration of 1 mM, ASTX provided better protection than the endogenous antioxidant glutathione in terms of suppressing calcium-induced turbidity of lens proteins. Thin-layer chromatography analysis indicated that ASTX interacted with calcium ions to form complexes, which we believe interfere with the hydrolysis of lens crystallins by calcium-activated calpain. This in vitro study shows that ASTX is capable of protecting porcine lens proteins from oxidative insults and degradation by calcium-induced calpain.

The aim of the present study was to elucidate the fundamental mechanism of bovine oviduct epithelial cell (BOEC) co-culture on developmental capacity of bovine in vitro oocyte maturation/in vitro fertilization (IVM/IVF) embryos. We examined the effects of astaxanthin against nitric oxide-induced oxidative stress on cell viability by MTT assay, lipid peroxidation (LPO) by using thiobarbituric acid (TBA) reaction for malondialdehyde (MDA) and the expression of antioxidant genes (CuZnSOD, MnSOD and Catalase) or apoptosis genes (Bcl-2, Caspase-3 and Bax) by RT-PCR in BOEC. We also evaluated the developmental rates of bovine IVM/IVF embryos co-cultured with BOEC pre-treated with astaxanthin (500 mum) in the presence or absence of sodium nitroprusside (SNP, 1000 mum) for 24 h. Cell viability in BOEC treated with SNP (50- 2000 mum) lowered, while astaxanthin addition (50-500 mum) increased it in a dosedependent manner. Cell viability in astaxanthin plus SNP (1000 mum) gradually recovered according to the increase in astaxanthin additions (100-500 mm). The LPO in astaxanthin group (50-500 muM) gradually decreased in a dose dependent manner and among SNP or astaxanthin plus SNP group, SNP alone and astaxanthin (50 muM) plus SNP shown a significant increase than other groups (p < 0.05). Expression of apoptosis or antioxidant genes was detected by RT-PCR. Bcl-2 and antioxidant genes were detected in astaxanthin or astaxanthin plus SNP group, and Caspase-3 and Bax genes were only found in SNP group. When bovine IVM/IVF embryos were cultured for 6-7 days under co-culture system such as BOEC treated with astaxanthin in the presence or absence of SNP, the developmental ability to blastocysts in 500 mum astaxanthin group was the highest of all groups. These results suggest that astaxanthin has a antioxidative effect on cell viability and LPO of BOEC, and development of bovine IVM/IVF embryos due to the induction of antioxidant genes and suppression of apoptosis genes.

Upon mitogen sensitization, lymphocytes undergo proliferation by oxyradical-based mechanisms. Through continuous resting-restimulation cycles, lymphocytes accumulate auto-induced oxidative lesions which lead to cell dysfunction and limit their viability. Astaxanthin (ASTA) is a nutritional carotenoid that shows notable antioxidant properties. This study aims to evaluate whether the in vitro ASTA treatment can limit oxyradical production and auto-oxidative injury in human lymphocytes. Activated lymphocytes treated with 5 microM ASTA showed immediate lower rates of O(2)(*-) /H(2)O(2) production whilst NO* and intracellular Ca(2+) levels were concomitantly enhanced (24 h), the cytotoxicity test for ASTA showed a sigmoidal dose-response curve (LC50 = 11.67 +/- 0.42 microM), whereas higher activities of superoxide dismutase and catalase in 5 microM ASTA-treated lymphocytes were associated to significant lower indexes of oxidative injury. On the other hand, lower proliferative scores of ASTA lymphocytes might be a result of diminished intracellular levels of pivotal redox signaling molecules, such as H(2)O(2). Further studies are necessary to establish the ASTA-dose compensation point between minimizing oxidative damages and allowing efficient redox-mediated immune functions, such as proliferation, adhesion, and oxidative burst.

The aim of the present study was to evaluate the in vitro effect of carotenoid astaxanthin (ASTA) on the phagocytic and microbicidal capacities, cytokine release, and reactive oxygen species production in human neutrophils. METHODS: The following parameters were evaluated: cytotoxic effect of ASTA on human neutrophils viability, phagocytic and microbicidal capacities of neutrophils by using Candida albicans assay, intracellular calcium mobilization (Fura 2-AM fluorescent probe), superoxide anion (lucigenin and DHE probes), hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2), phenol red), and nitric oxide (NO.) (Griess reagent) production, activities of antioxidant enzymes (total/Mn-SOD, CAT, GPx, and GR), oxidative damages in biomolecules (TBARS assay and carbonyl groups), and cytokine (IL-6 and TNF-alpha) release. RESULTS: Astaxanthin significantly improves neutrophil phagocytic and microbicidal capacity, and increases the intracellular calcium concentration and NO. production. Both functional parameters were accompanied by a decrease in superoxide anion and hydrogen peroxide and IL-6 and TNF-alpha production. Oxidative damages in lipids and proteins were significantly decreased after ASTA-treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Taken together our results are supportive to a beneficial effect of astaxanthin-treatment on human neutrophils function as demonstrated by increased phagocytic and fungicide capacity as well as by the reduced superoxide anion and hydrogen peroxide production, however, without affecting neutrophils capacity to kill C. albicans. This process appears to be mediated by calcium released from intracellular storages as well as nitric oxide production..

Retinol (ROH) and provitamin-A carotenoids are recommended to treat ROH deficiency. Xanthophyll carotenoids, being potent antioxidants, can modulate health disorders. We hypothesize that nonprovitamin-A carotenoids may yield ROH and suppress lipid peroxidation under ROH deficiency. This study aimed to (i) study the possible bioconversion of astaxanthin and lutein to ROH similar to ß-carotene and (ii) determine the antioxidant potential of these carotenoids with reference to Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase, antioxidant molecules, and lipid peroxidation (Lpx) induced by ROH deficiency in rats. ROH deficiency was induced in rats (n = 5 per group) by feeding a diet devoid of ROH. Retinol-deficient (RD) rats were gavaged with astaxanthin, lutein, ß-carotene, or peanut oil alone (RD group) for 7 days. Results show that the RD group had lowered plasma ROH levels (0.3 µmol/L), whereas ROH rose in astaxanthin and ß-carotene groups (4.9 and 5.7 µmol/L, respectively), which was supported by enhanced (69% and 70%) intestinal ß-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase activity. Astaxanthin, lutein, and ß-carotene lowered Lpx by 45%, 41%, and 40% (plasma), respectively, and 59%, 64%, and 60% (liver), respectively, compared with the RD group. Lowered Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase and enhanced superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione-S-transferase activities support the lowered Lpx. To conclude, this report confirms that astaxanthin is converted into ß- carotene and ROH in ROH-deficient rats, and the antioxidant potential of carotenoids was in the order astaxanthin > lutein > ß-carotene.

Free radicals induced by cigarette smoking have been strongly linked to increased oxidative stress in vivo, contributing to the pathobiology of various diseases. This study was performed to investigate the effects of Haematococcus astaxanthin (ASX), which has been known to be a potent antioxidant, on oxidative stress in smokers. Thirty-nine heavy smokers (=20 cigarettes/day) and 39 non-smokers were enrolled in this study. Smokers were randomly divided into three dosage groups to receive ASX at doses of 5, 20, or 40 mg (n=13, each) once daily for 3 weeks. Oxidative stress biomarkers such as malondialdehyde, isoprostane, superoxide dismutase, and total antioxidant capacity, and ASX levels in plasma were measured at baseline and after 1, 2, and 3 weeks of treatment. Compared with baseline, the plasma malondialdehyde and isoprostane levels decreased, whereas superoxide dismutase level and total antioxidant capacity increased in all ASX intervention groups over the 3-week period. In particular, isoprostane levels showed a significant dose-dependent decrease after ASX intake. The results suggest that ASX supplementation might prevent oxidative damage in smokers by suppressing lipid peroxidation and stimulating the activity of the antioxidant system in smokers.

Higher intakes of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that are abundant in marine fishes have been long described as a "good nutritional intervention" with increasing clinical benefits to cardiovascular health, inflammation, mental, and neurodegenerative diseases. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of daily fish oil (FO- 10 mg EPA/kg body weight (BW) and 7 mg DHA/kg BW) intake by oral gavage associated with the antioxidant astaxanthin (ASTA-1 mg/kg BW) on the redox metabolism and the functional properties of lymphocytes from rat lymph nodes. METHODS: This study was conducted by measurements of lymphocyte proliferation capacity, ROS production [superoxide (O (2) (•-) ) and hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2))], nitric oxide (NO(•)) generation, intracellular calcium release, oxidative damage to lipids and proteins, activities of major antioxidant enzymes, GSH/GSSG content, and cytokines release. RESULTS: After 45 days of FO + ASTA supplementation, the proliferation capacity of activated T- and B-lymphocytes was significantly diminished followed by lower levels of O (2) (•-) , H(2)O(2) and NO(•) production, and increased activities of total/SOD, GR and GPx, and calcium release in cytosol. ASTA was able to prevent oxidative modification in cell structures through the suppression of the oxidative stress condition imposed by FO. L: -selectin was increased by FO, and IL-1ß was decreased only by ASTA supplementation. CONCLUSION: We can propose that association of ASTA with FO could be a good strategy to prevent oxidative stress induced by polyunsaturated fatty acids and also to potentiate immuno-modulatory effects of FO.

Dyslipidemia and oxidative stress contribute to atherogenesis. Astaxanthin (ASTX) is a red-colored carotenoid well known for its high antioxidant capacity. However, its effects on lipid metabolism and antioxidant defense mechanisms have received only limited investigation. We fed male apoE knockout (apoE)(-/-) mice, a mouse model for atherosclerosis, a high-fat (15%)/high-cholesterol (0.2%) diet alone (control) or supplemented with ASTX-rich Hematococcus pluvialis extract (0.03% ASTX by weight) for 4 wk. ASTX-fed apoE(-/-) mice had significantly lower plasma total cholesterol and TG concentrations than controls, but body weight and plasma alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase did not differ between the groups. qRT-PCR analysis demonstrated significantly greater mRNA levels of LDL receptor (LDLR), 3-hydroxy-3- methylglutaryl CoA reductase, and sterol regulatory element binding protein 2 (SREBP- 2) and greater mature SREBP-2 protein in the livers of ASTX-fed mice, indicating that increased LDLR expression may be responsible for the hypocholesterolemic effect of ASTX. Hepatic lipogenic gene expression was not altered, but carnitine palmitoyl transferase 1, acetyl-CoA carboxylase ß, and acyl-CoA oxidase mRNA abundance were significantly increased by ASTX supplementation, suggesting the TG-lowering effect of ASTX may be due to increased fatty acid ß-oxidation in the liver. Expression of the nuclear factor E2 related factor 2-responsive endogenous antioxidant gene also was induced with concomitantly lower glutathione disulfide levels in the livers of ASTX-fed apoE(-/-) mice compared to controls. In conclusion, these results suggest that supplementation of ASTX-rich H. pluvialis extract improves cholesterol and lipid metabolism as well as antioxidant defense mechanisms, all of which could help mitigate the progression of atherosclerosis.

This study investigated the effect of astaxanthin (ASX; 3,3-dihydroxybeta, beta-carotene- 4,4-dione), a water-dispersible synthetic carotenoid, on liver ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. Astaxanthin (5 mg/kg/day) or olive oil was administered to rats via intragastric intubation for 14 consecutive days before the induction of hepatic IR. On the 15th day, blood vessels supplying the median and left lateral hepatic lobes were occluded with an arterial clamp for 60 min, followed by 60 min reperfusion. At the end of the experimental period, blood samples were obtained from the right ventricule to determine plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and xanthine oxidase (XO) activities and animals were sacrificed to obtain samples of nonischemic and postischemic liver tissue. The effects of ASX on IR injury were evaluated by assessing hepatic ultrastructure via transmission electron microscopy and by histopathological scoring. Hepatic conversion of xanthine dehygrogenase (XDH) to XO, total GSH and protein carbonyl levels were also measured as markers of oxidative stress. Expression of NOS2 was determined by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis while nitrate/nitrite levels were measured via spectral analysis. Total histopathological scoring of cellular damage was significantly decreased in hepatic IR injury following ASX treatment. Electron microscopy of postischemic tissue demonstrated parenchymal cell damage, swelling of mitochondria, disarrangement of rough endoplasmatic reticulum which was also partially reduced by ASX treatment. Astaxanthine treatment significantly decreased hepatic conversion of XDH to XO and tissue protein carbonyl levels following IR injury. The current results suggest that the mechanisms of action by which ASX reduces IR damage may include antioxidant protection against oxidative injury. 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Advances in understanding the neurodegenerative pathologies are creating new opportunities for the development of neuroprotective therapies, such as antioxidant food factors, lifestyle modification and drugs. However, the biomarker by which the effect of the agent on neurodegeneration is determined is limited. We here address hexanoyl dopamine (HED), one of novel dopamine adducts derived from brain polyunsaturated acid, referring to its in vitro formation, potent toxicity to SH-SY5Y cells, and application to assess the neuroprotective effect of antioxidative food factors. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, and its deficiency is a characterized feature in Parkinson's disease (PD); thus, HED provides a new insight into the understanding of dopamine biology and pathophysiology of PD and a novel biomarker for the assessment of neuroprotective therapies. We have established an analytical system for the detection of HED and its toxicity to the neuroblstoma cell line, SH-SY5Y cells. Here, we discuss the characteristics of the system and its applications to investigate the neuroprotective effect of several antioxidants that originate from food.

Cyclophosphamide (CP), an alkylating agent used in the treatment of several cancers as well as an immunosuppressant in rheumatoid arthritis. It is used against several cancers due to its broad spectrum efficacy, but at the same time possesses unwanted risks for occupational exposure as well as therapy related toxicities to patients. The present study was aimed to investigate the protective effect of astaxanthin (AST) a red carotenoid pigment on CP induced germ cell toxicity in male mice. CP was administered intraperitoneally (i.p.) at the dose of 50, 100 and 200mg/kg body weight to mice (20-25 g) once in a week for a period of five weeks. AST was given at the dose of 25mg/kg per oral (p.o.) for five consecutive days in a week for five weeks. The animals were sacrificed one week after the last injection of CP. The protective effect of AST against CP induced male germ cell toxicity was evaluated using body weight, testes and epididymis weight, sperm count, sperm head morphology, sperm comet assay, histology of testes and TUNEL assay. AST treatment significantly improved the testes weight, sperm count and sperm head morphology as compared to only CP treated animals. The result of comet assay showed that AST treatment significantly restored the sperm DNA damage induced by CP. Further, AST treatment showed protection against CP induced testicular toxicity as evident from testes histology and TUNEL assay. The present results indicate the chemoprotective potential of AST against CP induced germ cell toxicity in mice.

Astaxanthin, a carotenoid without vitamin A activity, has shown anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities; however, its molecular action and mechanism have not been elucidated. We examined in vitro and in vivo regulatory function of astaxanthin on production of nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) as well as expression of inducible NO synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase-2, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta). Astaxanthin inhibited the expression or formation production of these proinflammatory mediators and cytokines in both lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 cells and primary macrophages. Astaxanthin also suppressed the serum levels of NO, PGE2, TNF-alpha, and IL-1beta in LPS-administrated mice, and inhibited NF-kappaB activation as well as iNOS promoter activity in RAW264.7 cells stimulated with LPS. This compound directly inhibited the intracellular accumulation of reactive oxygen species in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells as well as H2O2-induced NF-kappaB activation and iNOS expression. Moreover, astaxanthin blocked nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB p65 subunit and I(kappa)B(alpha) degradation, which correlated with its inhibitory effect on I(kappa)B kinase (IKK) activity. These results suggest that astaxanthin, probably due to its antioxidant activity, inhibits the production of inflammatory mediators by blocking NF-kappaB activation and as a consequent suppression of IKK activity and I(kappa)B-alpha degradation.

Astaxanthin has shown antioxidant, antitumor, and antiinflammatory activities; however, its molecular action and mechanism in the nervous system have yet to be elucidated. We examined the in vitro effects of astaxanthin on the production of nitric oxide (NO), as well as the expression of inducible NO synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated BV2 microglial cells. Astaxanthin inhibited the expression or formation of nitric oxide (NO), iNOS and COX-2 in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated BV-2 microglial cells. Astaxanthin also suppressed the protein levels of iNOS and COX-2 in LPSstimulated BV2 microglial cells. These results suggest that astaxanthin, probably due to its antioxidant activity, inhibits the production of inflammatory mediators by blocking iNOS and COX-2 activation or by the suppression of iNOS and COX-2 degradation.


Astaxanthin (AST) is a carotenoid that is found in marine animals and vegetables. Several previous studies have demonstrated that AST exhibits a wide variety of biological activities including antioxidant, antitumor, and antiHelicobacter pylori effects. In this study, attention was focused on the antioxidant effect of AST. The object of the present study was to investigate the efficacy of AST in endotoxin-induced uveitis (EIU) in rats. In addition, the effect of AST on endotoxin-induced nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha production in a mouse macrophage cell line (RAW 264.7) was studied in vitro.


EIU was induced in male Lewis rats by a footpad injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). AST or prednisolone was administered intravenously at 30 minutes before, at the same time as, or at 30 minutes after LPS treatment. The number of infiltrating cells and protein concentration in the aqueous humor collected at 24 hours after LPS treatment was determined. RAW 264.7 cells were pretreated with various concentrations of AST for 24 hours and subsequently stimulated with 10 microg/mL of LPS for 24 hours. The levels of PGE2, TNF-alpha, and NO production were determined in vivo and in vitro.


AST suppressed the development of EIU in a dose-dependent fashion. The anti-inflammatory effect of 100 mg/kg AST was as strong as that of 10 mg/kg prednisolone. AST also decreased production of NO, activity of inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS), and production of PGE2 and TNF-alpha in RAW264.7 cells in vitro in a dose-dependent manner.


This study suggests that AST has a dose-dependent ocular anti-inflammatory effect, by the suppression of NO, PGE2, and TNF-alpha production, through directly blocking NOS enzyme activity.

The carotenoid pigment astaxanthin has important applications in the nutraceutical, cosmetics, food and feed industries. Haematococcus pluvialis is the richest source of natural astaxanthin and is now cultivated at industrial scale. Astaxanthin is a strong coloring agent and a potent antioxidant - its strong antioxidant activity points to its potential to target several health conditions. This article covers the antioxidant, UV-light protection, anti-inflammatory and other properties of astaxanthin and its possible role in many human health problems. The research reviewed supports the assumption that protecting body tissues from oxidative damage with daily ingestion of natural astaxanthin might be a practical and beneficial strategy in health management.

Oxidative stress and inflammation are implicated in several different manifestationsof cardiovascular disease (CVD). They are generated, in part, from the overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) thatactivate transcriptional messengers, such as nuclear factor–_B, tangibly contributing to endothelial dysfunction, the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis, irreversible damage after ischemic reperfusion, and even arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation. Despite this connection between oxidative stress and CVD, there are currently no recognized therapeutic interventions to address this important unmet need. Antioxidants that provide a broad, “upstream” approach via ROS/RNS quenching or free radical chain breaking seem an appropriate therapeutic option based on epidemiologic, dietary, and in vivo animal model data. However, human clinical trials with several different wellknown agents, such as vitamin E and _-carotene, have been disappointing. Does this mean antioxidants as a class are ineffective, or rather that the “right” compound(s) have yet to be found, their mechanisms of action understood, and their appropriate targeting and dosages determined? A large class of potent naturally-occurring antioxidants exploited by nature—the oxygenated carotenoids (xanthophylls)— have demonstrated utility in their natural form but have eluded development as successful targeted therapeutic agents up to the present time. This article characterizes the mechanism by which this novel group of antioxidants function and reviews their preclinical development. Results from multiple species support the antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties of the prototype compound, astaxanthin, establishing it as an appropriate candidate for development as a therapeutic agent for cardiovascular oxidative stress and inflammation.

In this study, combinations of Ginkgo biloba leaf extract (EGb761) plus the carotenoid antioxidant astaxanthin (ASX) and vitamin C were evaluated for a summative dose effect in the inhibition of asthma-associated inflammation in asthmatic guinea-pigs. Ovalbuminsensitized Hartley guinea-pigs challenged with ovalbumin aerosol to induce asthma, were administered EGb761, ASX, vitamin C or ibuprofen. Following killing, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid was evaluated for inflammatory cell infiltrates and lung tissue cyclic nucleotide content. Each parameter measured was significantly altered to a greater degree by drug combinations, than by each component acting independently. An optimal combination was identified that included astaxanthin (10 mg/kg), vitamin C (200 mg/kg) and EGb761 (10 mg/kg), resulting in counts of eosinophils and neutrophils each 1.6-fold lower; macrophages 1.8-fold lower, cAMP 1.4-fold higher; and cGMP 2.04-fold higher than levels in untreated, asthmatic animals (p < 0.05). In conclusion, EGb761, ASX and vitamin C are shown here to interact summatively to suppress inflammation with efficacy equal to or better than ibuprofen, a widely used non-steroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID). Such combinations of non-toxic phytochemicals constitute powerful tools for the prevention of onset of acute and chronic inflammatory disease if consumed regularly by healthy individuals; and may also augment the effectiveness of therapy for those with established illness. Copyright (c) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Astaxanthin has shown antioxidant, antitumor, and antiinflammatory activities; however, its molecular action and mechanism in the nervous system have yet to be elucidated. We examined the in vitro effects of astaxanthin on the production of nitric oxide (NO), as well as the expression of inducible NO synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated BV2 microglial cells. Astaxanthin inhibited the expression or formation of nitric oxide (NO), iNOS and COX-2 in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated BV-2 microglial cells. Astaxanthin also suppressed the protein levels of iNOS and COX-2 in LPS-stimulated BV2 microglial cells. These results suggest that astaxanthin, probably due to its antioxidant activity, inhibits the production of inflammatory mediators by blocking

Carotenoids are used for systemic photoprotection in humans. Regarding mechanisms underlying photoprotective effects of carotenoids, here we compared the modulation of UVA-related injury by carotenoids. Human dermal fibroblasts (HDF) were exposed to moderate doses of UVA, which stimulated apoptosis, increased levels of reactive oxygen species and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, decreased antioxidant enzymes activities, promoted membrane perturbation, and induced the expression of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). The carotenoids astaxanthin (AX), canthaxanthin (CX) and beta-carotene (betaC) were delivered to HDF 24 h before exposure to UVA. Astaxanthin exhibited a pronounced photoprotective effect and counteracted all of the above-mentioned UVA-induced alterations to a significant extent. beta-Carotene only partially prevented the UVA-induced decline of catalase and superoxide dismutase activities, but it increased membrane damage and stimulated HO-1 expression. Moreover, betaC dose-dependently induced caspase-3 activity following UVA exposure. In contrast, CX had no effect on oxidative damage, except for HO-1 expression, which was augmented. Uptake of AX by fibroblasts was higher than that of the other two carotenoids. The photostability of the three compounds in fibroblasts was AX > CX >> betaC. The data indicate that the oxo-carotenoid AX has a superior preventive effect towards photo-oxidative changes in cell culture.

UV radiation from sunlight is the most potent environmental risk factor in skin cancer pathogenesis. In the present study the ability of an algal extract to protect against UVA-induced DNA alterations was examined in human skin fibroblasts (1BR-3), human melanocytes (HEMAc) and human intestinal CaCo-2 cells. The protective effects of the proprietary algal extract, which contained a high level of the carotenoid astaxanthin, were compared with synthetic astaxanthin. DNA damage was assessed using the single cell gel electrophoresis or comet assay. In 1BR-3 cells, synthetic astaxanthin prevented UVA-induced DNA damage at all concentrations (10 nM, 100 nM, 10 microM) tested. In addition, the synthetic carotenoid also prevented DNA damage in both the HEMAc and CaCo-2 cells. The algal extract displayed protection against UVA-induced DNA damage when the equivalent of 10 microM astaxanthin was added to all three-cell types, however, at the lower concentrations (10 and 100 nM) no significant protection was evident. There was a 4.6-fold increase in astaxanthin content of CaCo-2 cells exposed to the synthetic compound and a 2.5-fold increase in cells exposed to algal extract. In 1BR-3 cells, exposure to UVA for 2 h resulted in a significant induction of cellular superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, coupled with a marked decrease in cellular glutathione (GSH) content. However pre-incubation (18 h) with 10 microM of the either the synthetic astaxanthin or the algal extract prevented UVA-induced alterations in SOD activity and GSH content. Similarly, in CaCo-2 cells a significant depletion of GSH was observed following UVAirradiation which was prevented by simultaneously incubating with 10 microM of either synthetic astaxanthin or the algal extract. SOD activity was unchanged following UVA exposure in the intestinal cell line. This work suggests a role for the algal extract as a potentially beneficial antioxidant.


Repetitive exposure of the skin to UVA radiation elicits sagging more frequently than wrinkling, which is mainly attributed to its biochemical mechanism to upregulate the expression of matrix-metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and skin fibroblast elastase (SFE)/neutral endopeptidase (NEP), respectively.


In this study, we examined the effects of a potent antioxidant, astaxanthin (AX), on the induction of MMP- 1 and SFE by UVA treatment of cultured human dermal fibroblasts. METHODS: Those effects were assessed by real-time RT-PCR, Western blotting and enzymic activity assays. RESULTS: UVA radiation elicited a significant increase in the gene expression of MMP-1 as well as SFE/NEP (to a lesser extent) which was followed by distinct increases in their protein and enzymatic activity levels. The addition of AX at concentrations of 4-8 microM immediately after UVA exposure significantly attenuated the induction of MMP-1 and SFE/NEP expression elicited by UVA at the gene, protein and activity levels although both the UVA stimulation and the subsequent AX inhibition were greater for MMP-1 than for SFE/NEP. Analysis of the UVA-induced release of cytokines revealed that UVA significantly stimulated only the secretion of IL-6 among the cytokines tested and that AX significantly diminished only the IL-6 secretion.


These findings indicate that, based on different effective concentrations of AX, a major mode of action leading to the inhibition elicited by AX depends on inhibition of UVA effects of the reactive oxygen species-directed signaling cascade, but not on interruption of the IL-6-mediated signaling cascade. We hypothesize that AX would have a significant benefit on protecting against UVA-induced skin photo-aging such as sagging and wrinkles. 2010 Japanese Society for Investigative Dermatology. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

We have investigated whether astaxanthin exerted neuroprotective effects in retinal ganglion cells in-vitro and in-vivo. In-vitro, retinal damage was induced by 24-h hydrogen peroxide (h3O2) exposure or serum deprivation, and cell viability was measured using a WST assay. In cultured retinal ganglion cells (RGC-5, a rat ganglion cell-line transformed using E1A virus), astaxanthin inhibited the neurotoxicity induced by h3O2 or serum deprivation, and reduced the intracellular oxidation induced by various reactive oxygen species (ROS). Furthermore, astaxanthin decreased the radical generation induced by serum deprivation in RGC-5. In mice in-vivo, astaxanthin (100 mg kg(-1), p.o., four times) reduced the retinal damage (a decrease in retinal ganglion cells and in thickness of inner plexiform layer) induced by intravitreal N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) injection. Furthermore, astaxanthin reduced the expressions of 4- hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE)-modified protein (indicator of lipid peroxidation) and 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG; indicator of oxidative DNA damage). These findings indicated that astaxanthin had neuroprotective effects against retinal damage in-vitro and in-vivo, and that its protective effects may have been partly mediated via its antioxidant effects.


Astaxanthin (AST) is a carotenoid found in marine animals and vegetables. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of AST on the development of experimental choroidal neovascularization (CNV) with underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms.


Laser photocoagulation was used to induce CNV in C57BL/6J mice. Mice were pretreated with intraperitoneal injections of AST daily for 3 days before photocoagulation, and treatments were continued daily until the end of the study. CNV response was analyzed by volumetric measurements 1 week after laser injury. Retinal pigment epithelium-choroid levels of IkappaB-alpha, intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1, monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1, interleukin (IL)-6, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-1, and VEGFR-2 were examined by Western blotting or ELISA. AST was applied to capillary endothelial (b-End3) cells, macrophages, and RPE cells to analyze the activation of NF-kappaB and the expression of inflammatory molecules.


The index of CNV volume was significantly suppressed by treatment with AST compared with that in vehicle-treated animals. AST treatment led to significant inhibition of macrophage infiltration into CNV and of the in vivo and in vitro expression of inflammation-related molecules, including VEGF, IL-6, ICAM-1, MCP-1, VEGFR-1, and VEGFR-2. Importantly, AST suppressed the activation of the NF-kappaB pathway, including IkappaB-alpha degradation and p65 nuclear translocation.


AST treatment, together with inflammatory processes including NF-kappaB activation, subsequent upregulation of inflammatory molecules, and macrophage infiltration, led to significant suppression of CNV development. The present study suggests the possibility of AST supplementation as a therapeutic strategy to suppress CNV associated with AMD.


To evaluate the influence of short-term carotenoid and antioxidant supplementation on retinal function in nonadvanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).


Randomized controlled trial.


Twenty-seven patients with nonadvanced AMD and visual acuity > or =0.2 logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution were enrolled and randomly divided into 2 age-similar groups: 15 patients had oral supplementation of vitamin C (180 mg), vitamin E (30 mg), zinc (22.5 mg), copper (1 mg), lutein (10 mg), zeaxanthin (1 mg), and astaxanthin (4 mg) (AZYR SIFI, Catania, Italy) daily for 12 months (treated AMD [T-AMD] group; mean age, 69.4+/-4.31 years; 15 eyes); 12 patients had no dietary supplementation during the same period (nontreated AMD [NT-AMD] group; mean age, 69.7+/-6.23 years; 12 eyes). At baseline, they were compared with 15 age-similar healthy controls.


Multifocal electroretinograms in response to 61 M-stimuli presented to the central 20 degrees of the visual field were assessed in pretreatment (baseline) conditions and, in nonadvanced AMD patients, after 6 and 12 months.

Main Outcome Measures:

Multifocal electroretinogram response amplitude densities (RAD, nanovolt/deg(2)) of the N1-P1 component of first-order binary kernels measured from 5 retinal eccentricity areas between the fovea and midperiphery: 0 degrees to 2.5 degrees (R1), 2.5 degrees to 5 degrees (R2), 5 degrees to 10 degrees (R3), 10 degrees to 15 degrees (R4), and 15 degrees to 20 degrees (R5).


At baseline, we observed highly significant reductions of N1-P1 RADs of R1 and R2 in T-AMD and NT-AMD patients when compared with healthy controls (1-way analysis of variance P0.05) from controls. No significant differences (P>0.05) were observed in N1-P1 RADs of R1-R5 between T-AMD and NT-AMD at baseline. After 6 and 12 months of treatment, T-AMD eyes showed highly significant increases in N1-P1 RADs of R1 and R2 (P0.05) change was observed in N1-P1 RADs of R3-R5. No significant (P>0.05) changes were found in N1-P1 RADs of R1-R5 in NT-AMD eyes.


In nonadvanced AMD eyes, a selective dysfunction in the central retina (0 degrees -5 degrees ) can be improved by the supplementation with carotenoids and antioxidants. No functional changes are present in the more peripheral (5 degrees -20 degrees ) retinal areas.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of the predominant carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) of the macular pigment of the human retina, to protect SK-N-SH human neuroblastoma cells against DNA damage induced by different RNOS donors. Although astaxanthin has never been isolated from the human eye, it was included in this study because its structure is very close to that of lutein and zeaxanthin and because it affords protection from UV-light. DNA damage was induced by GSNO-MEE, a nitric oxide donor, by Na(2)N(2)O(3), a nitroxyl anion donor and by SIN-1, a peroxynitrite-generating agent. DNA damage was assessed using the comet assay, a rapid and sensitive single cell gel electrophoresis technique able to detect primary DNA damage in individual cells. The tail moment parameter was used as an index of DNA damage. The values of tail moment increased in all the samples incubated with the RNOS donors, indicating DNA impairment. Data obtained show that the ability of zeaxanthin, lutein, and astaxanthin to reduce the DNA damage depends on the type of RNOS donor and the carotenoid concentration used. All the carotenoids studied were capable of protecting against DNA damage in neuroblastoma cells when the cells were exposed to GSNO-MEE. However, a different behaviour was present when the other two RNOS donors were used. The presence of a carotenoid alone (without an RNOS donor) did not cause DNA damage. Spectrophotometric studies showed that the order with which tested carotenoids reacted with RNOS was not always in agreement with the DNA protection results. The data from this study provides additional information on the activities of the macular pigment carotenoids of the human retina.

We investigated the effects of astaxanthin (AST), a carotenoid, on endotoxininduced uveitis (EIU), and over the course of the disease measured the expression of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the presence or absence of AST. EIU was induced in male Lewis rats by footpad injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The animals were randomly divided to 12 groups with eight animals in each. Immediately after the inoculation, AST (1, 10, or 100 mg kg(-1)) was injected intravenously. Aqueous humour was collected at 6, 12 and 24 hr after LPS inoculation and the number of infiltrating cells in the anterior chamber was counted. In addition, we assayed the concentration of protein, nitric oxide (NO), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Immunohistochemical staining with a monoclonal antibody against activated NFkappaB was performed in order to evaluate the effects of AST on NF-kappaB activation. Rats injected with AST showed a significant decrease in the number of infiltrating cells in the anterior chamber and additionally there was a significantly lower concentration of protein, NO, TNF-alpha and PGE2 in the aqueous humour. Moreover, even early stages of EIU were suppressed by injection of AST. The number of activated NF-kappaB-positive cells was lower in iris-ciliary bodies treated with 10 or 100 mg kg(-1) AST at 3 hr after LPS injection. These results suggest that AST reduces ocular inflammation in eyes with EIU by downregulating proinflammatory factors and by inhibiting the NF-kappaBdependent signaling pathway

The development of cataracts in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., was studied in 16 groups of smolts fed diets differing in prooxidant (iron, copper, manganese) and antioxidant (vitamin E, vitamin C, astaxanthin) composition and lipid level for 23 weeks in sea water, using a 2(7-3) reduced factorial design. The seven dietary variables were systematically varied at low (requirement level and 150 g lipid kg(-1)) and high levels (below known toxic levels and 320 g lipid kg(-1)). A mean endpoint cataract incidence of approximately 36% was observed. High dietary levels of vitamin C and astaxanthin reduced cataract frequency, whereas high dietary lipid level, iron and manganese were associated with increased cataract frequencies. Considering the nutritional status of selected organs of the fish, only the status of ascorbic acid correlated negatively to cataract development (P < 0.05). The lens glutathione (GSH) status was not correlated to cataract frequency, nor statistically explained by the dietary variables. However, the study shows that balancing the diet with respect to pro- and antioxidant nutrients may significantly protect Atlantic salmon against development of cataracts. An incidence of reversible osmotic cataract observed at week 14 was positively correlated to plasma glucose concentration.

The aim of this study was to clarify the possible protective effect of astaxanthin (ASX) on the retina in rats with elevated intraocular pressure (EIOP). Rats were randomly divided into two groups which received olive oil or 5mg/kg/day ASX for a period of 8 weeks. Elevated intraocular pressure was induced by unilaterally cauterizing three episcleral vessels and the unoperated eye served as control. At the end of the experimental period, neuroprotective effect of ASX was determined via electrophysiological measurements of visual evoked potentials (VEP) and rats were subsequently sacrificed to obtain enucleated globes which were divided into four groups including control, ASX treated, EIOP, EIOP+ASX treated. Retinoprotective properties of ASX were determined by evaluating retinal apoptosis, protein carbonyl levels and nitric oxide synthase-2 (NOS-2) expression. Latencies of all VEP components were significantly prolonged in EIOP and returned to control levels following ASX administration. When compared to controls, EIOP significantly increased retinal protein oxidation which returned to baseline levels in ASX treated EIOP group. NOS-2 expression determined by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemical staining was significantly greater in rats with EIOP compared to ASX and control groups. Retinal TUNEL staining showed apoptosis in all EIOP groups; however ASX treatment significantly decreased the percent of apoptotic cells when compared to non treated ocular hypertensive controls. The presented data confirm the role of oxidative injury in EIOP and highlight the protective effect of ASX in ocular hypertension.

Astaxanthin (AST) is a powerful antioxidant that occurs naturally in a wide variety of living organisms. Based on the report claiming that AST could cross the brain-blood barrier, the aim of this study was to investigate the neuroprotective effect of AST by using an oxidative stress-induced neuronal cell damage system. The treatment with DHA hydroperoxide (DHA-OOH) or 6-hydroxydopamine (6- OHDA), either of which is a reactive oxygen species (ROS)-inducing neurotoxin, led to a significant decrease in viable dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells by the MTT assay, whereas a significant protection was shown when the cells were pretreated with AST. Moreover, 100 nM AST pretreatment significantly inhibited intracellular ROS generation that occurred in either DHA-OOH- or 6-OHDAtreated cells. The neuroprotective effect of AST is suggested to be dependent upon its antioxidant potential and mitochondria protection; therefore, it is strongly suggested that treatment with AST may be effective for oxidative stressassociated neurodegeneration and a potential candidate for natural brain food

Astaxanthin (ATX) is a dietary carotenoid of crustaceans and fish that contributes to their coloration. Dietary ATX is important for development and survival of salmonids and crustaceans and has been shown to reduce cardiac ischemic injury in rodents. The purpose of this study was to examine whether ATX can protect against ischemic injury in the mammalian brain. Adult rats were injected intracerebroventricularly with ATX or vehicle prior to a 60-min middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo). ATX was present in the infarction area at 70-75 min after onset of MCAo. Treatment with ATX, compared to vehicle, increased locomotor activity in stroke rats and reduced cerebral infarction at 2 d after MCAo. To evaluate the protective mechanisms of ATX against stroke, brain tissues were assayed for free radical damage, apoptosis, and excitoxicity. ATX antagonized ischemia-mediated loss of aconitase activity and reduced glutamate release, lipid peroxidation, translocation of cytochrome c, and TUNEL labeling in the ischemic cortex. ATX did not alter physiological parameters, such as body temperature, brain temperature, cerebral blood flow, blood gases, blood pressure, and pH. Collectively, our data suggest that ATX can reduce ischemia-related injury in brain tissue through the inhibition of oxidative stress, reduction of glutamate release, and antiapoptosis. ATX may be clinically useful for patients vulnerable or prone to ischemic events.

Astaxanthin (Ax), a carotenoid ubiquitously distributed in microorganisms, fish, and crustaceans, has been known to be a potent antioxidant and hence exhibit various physiological effects. We attempted in these studies to evaluate clinical toxicity and efficacy of long-term administration of a new Ax product, by measuring biochemical and hematological blood parameters and by analyzing brain function (using CogHealth and P300 measures). Ax-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extracts equivalent to 4, 8, 20 mg of Ax dialcohol were administered to 73, 38, and 16 healthy adult volunteers, respectively, once daily for 4 weeks to evaluate safety. Ten subjects with age-related forgetfulness received an extract equivalent to 12 mg in a daily dosing regimen for 12 weeks to evaluate efficacy. As a result, no abnormality was observed and efficacy for age-related decline in cognitive and psychomotor functions was suggested.

Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that occurs naturally in a wide variety of living organisms. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect and the mechanism of astaxanthin on reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated apoptosis in dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells. The treatment with DHA hydroperoxide (DHAOOH) or 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), either of which is ROS-inducing neurotoxin, led to a significant decrease in viable dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells by MTT assay, whereas a significant protection was shown while the cells were pretreated with astaxanthin. Moreover, 100 nM astaxanthin pretreatment significantly inhibited apoptosis, mitochondrial abnormalities and intracellular ROS generation occurred in either DHA-OOH- or 6-OHDA-treated cells. The neuroprotective effect of astaxanthin is suggested to be dependent upon its antioxidant potential and mitochondria protection; therefore, it is suggested that astaxanthin may be an effective treatment for oxidative stress-associated neurodegeneration.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by selective loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Although understanding of the pathogenesis of PD remains incomplete, increasing evidence from human and animal studies has suggested that oxidative stress is an important mediator in its pathogenesis. Astaxanthin (Asx), a potent antioxidant, has been thought to provide health benefits by decreasing the risk of oxidative stress-related diseases. This study examined the protective effects of Asx on 6- hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced apoptosis in the human neuroblastoma cell line SH-SY5Y. Pre-treatment of SH-SY5Y cells with Asx suppressed 6-OHDAinduced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, Asx strikingly inhibited 6-OHDA-induced mitochondrial dysfunctions, including lowered membrane potential and the cleavage of caspase 9, caspase 3, and poly(ADPribose) polymerase. In western blot analysis, 6-OHDA activated p38 MAPK, cjun NH(2)-terminal kinase 1/2, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, while Asx blocked the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK but not c-jun NH(2)- terminal kinase 1/2 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2. Pharmacological approaches showed that the activation of p38 MAPK has a critical role in 6- OHDA-induced mitochondrial dysfunctions and apoptosis. Furthermore, Asx markedly abolished 6-OHDA-induced reactive oxygen species generation, which resulted in the blockade of p38 MAPK activation and apoptosis induced by 6- OHDA treatment. Taken together, the present results indicated that the protective effects of Asx on apoptosis in SH-SY5Y cells may be, at least in part, attributable to the its potent antioxidative ability.


The consumption of alcoholic drinks is a frequent drug-abuse situation, which is associated to a wide variety of pathological disturbances affecting several organs, including the brain. We have previously shown in the developing rat brain that ethanol intake facilitates the propagation of cortical spreading depression (CSD), an excitability-related neural phenomenon present in several animal species. This electrophysiological effect was attenuated by a shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) carotenoids extract. Here we investigated the effects of pure astaxanthin, the main carotenoid found in shrimp, on CSD.


Adult Wistar rats were treated per gavage, during 18 days, with 2.5, 10 or 90 microg/kg/d astaxanthin dissolved in ethanol (3 g/kg) and CSD was recorded on the cortical surface 1 to 3 days thereafter. Four groups, treated respectively with ethanol, distilled water and soybean oil with- and without astaxanthin were also studied for comparison with the ethanol + astaxanthin groups.


Ethanol-treated rats displayed higher CSD-velocities (mean values, in mm/min, per hour of recording ranging from 4.08 +/- 0.09 to 4.12 +/- 0.16), compared to the distilled water-group (from 3.19 +/- 0.13 to 3.27 +/- 0.06). Addition of astaxanthin to ethanol lead to lower CSD-velocities in a dosedependent manner, ranging from 3.68 +/- 0.09 to 3.97 +/- 0.22 for the 2.5 microg/kg/d-dose, from 3.29 +/- 0.09 to 3.32 +/- 0.07 for the 10 microg/kg/ddose, and from 2.89 +/- 0.13 to 2.92 +/- 0.11 for the 90 microg/kg/d-dose. The velocities of the soybean oil groups (with and without astaxanthin) were not statistically different from the 10 microg/kg/d astaxanthin + ethanol and distilled water groups.


The results demonstrate the antagonistic effect of astaxanthin against the ethanol-induced facilitation of CSD propagation. Probably carotenoid antioxidant properties are involved in such effects.

The impact of astaxanthin-enriched algal powder on auxiliary memory improvement was assessed in BALB/c mice pre-supplemented with different dosages of cracked green algal (Haematococcus pluvialis) powder daily for 30 days. The supplemented mice were first tested over 8 days to find a hidden platform by swimming in a Morris water maze. Then, for 5 days, the mice were used to search for a visible platform in a Morris water maze. After that, the mice practised finding a safe place--an insulated platform in a chamber-- for 2 days. During these animal experimental periods, similar algal meals containing astaxanthin at 0, 0.26, 1.3 and 6.4 mg/kg body weight were continuously fed to each group of tested mice. Profiles of latency, distance, speed and the direction angle to the platforms as well as the diving frequency in each group were measured and analyzed. The process of mice jumping up onto the insulated platform and diving down to the copper-shuttered bottom with a 36 V electrical charge were also monitored by automatic video recording. The results of the Morris maze experiment showed that middle dosage of H. pluvialis meals (1.3 mg astaxanthin/kg body weight) significantly shortened the latency and distance required for mice to find a hidden platform. However, there was no obvious change in swim velocity in any of the supplemented groups. In contrast, the visible platform test showed a significant increase in latency and swim distance, and a significant decrease in swim speed for all groups of mice orally supplemented with H. pluvialis powder compared to the placebo group (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01). Mice supplemented with the algal meal hesitantly turned around the original hidden platform, in contract to mice supplemented with placebo, who easily forgot the original location and accepted the visible platform as a new safe place. These results illustrate that astaxanthin-enriched H. pluvialis powder has the auxiliary property of memory improvement. The results from the platform diving test showed that the low and middle dosage of H. pluvialis powder, rather that the high dosage, increased the latency and reduced the frequency of diving from the safe insulated platform to the electrically stimulated copper shutter, especially in the low treatment group (P < 0.05). These results indicate that H. pluvialis powder is associated with dose-dependent memory improvement and that a low dosage of algal powder is really good for improving the memory..