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Astaxanthin: Sources, Extraction, Stability, Biological Activities and Its Commercial Applications—A Review


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There is currently much interest in biological active compounds derived from natural resources, especially compounds that can efficiently act on molecular targets, which are involved in various diseases. Astaxanthin (3,3'-dihydroxy-β, β'-carotene-4,4'-dione) is a xanthophyll carotenoid, contained in Haematococcus pluvialis, Chlorella zofingiensis, Chlorococcum, and Phaffia rhodozyma. It accumulates up to 3.8% on the dry weight basis in H. pluvialis. Our recent published data on astaxanthin extraction, analysis, stability studies, and its biological activities results were added to this review paper. Based on our results and current literature, astaxanthin showed potential biological activity in in vitro and in vivo models. These studies emphasize the influence of astaxanthin and its beneficial effects on the metabolism in animals and humans. Bioavailability of astaxanthin in animals was enhanced after feeding Haematococcus biomass as a source of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin, used as a nutritional supplement, antioxidant and anticancer agent, prevents diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders, and also stimulates immunization. Astaxanthin products are used for commercial applications in the dosage forms as tablets, capsules, syrups, oils, soft gels, creams, biomass and granulated powders. Astaxanthin patent applications are available in food, feed and nutraceutical applications. The current review provides up-to-date information on astaxanthin sources, extraction, analysis, stability, biological activities, health benefits and special attention paid to its commercial applications.
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Mar. Drugs 2014, 12, 128-152; doi:10.3390/md12010128
marine drugs
ISSN 1660-3397
Astaxanthin: Sources, Extraction, Stability, Biological Activities
and Its Commercial ApplicationsA Review
Ranga Rao Ambati 1,*, Siew Moi Phang 1, Sarada Ravi 2 and
Ravishankar Gokare Aswathanarayana 3
1 Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia;
2 Plant Cell Biotechnology Department, Central Food Technological Research Institute, (Constituent
Laboratory of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research), Mysore-570020, Karnataka, India;
3 C. D. Sagar Centre for Life Sciences, Dayananda Sagar Institutions, Kumaraswamy Layout,
Bangalore-560078, Karnataka, India; E-Mail:
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail:;
Tel.: +603-79674610; Fax: +603-79676994.
Received: 10 October 2013; in revised form: 10 December 2013 / Accepted: 11 December 2013 /
Published: 7 January 2014
Abstract: There is currently much interest in biological active compounds derived from
natural resources, especially compounds that can efficiently act on molecular targets, which
are involved in various diseases. Astaxanthin (3,3-dihydroxy-β, β′-carotene-4,4-dione) is a
xanthophyll carotenoid, contained in Haematococcus pluvialis, Chlorella zofingiensis,
Chlorococcum, and Phaffia rhodozyma. It accumulates up to 3.8% on the dry weight basis
in H. pluvialis. Our recent published data on astaxanthin extraction, analysis, stability
studies, and its biological activities results were added to this review paper. Based on our
results and current literature, astaxanthin showed potential biological activity in in vitro
and in vivo models. These studies emphasize the influence of astaxanthin and its beneficial
effects on the metabolism in animals and humans. Bioavailability of astaxanthin in animals
was enhanced after feeding Haematococcus biomass as a source of astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin, used as a nutritional supplement, antioxidant and anticancer agent, prevents
diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders, and also stimulates
immunization. Astaxanthin products are used for commercial applications in the dosage
forms as tablets, capsules, syrups, oils, soft gels, creams, biomass and granulated powders.
Astaxanthin patent applications are available in food, feed and nutraceutical applications.
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 129
The current review provides up-to-date information on astaxanthin sources, extraction,
analysis, stability, biological activities, health benefits and special attention paid to its
commercial applications.
Keywords: astaxanthin; sources; stability; biological activities; health
benefits; applications
1. Introduction
Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll carotenoid which is found in various microorganisms and marine
animals [1]. It is a red fat-soluble pigment which does not have pro-Vitamin A activity in the human
body, although some of the studies reported that astaxanthin has more potent biological activity than
other carotenoids. The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has approved the use of
astaxanthin as food colorant in animal and fish feed [2]. The European Commission considers natural
astaxanthin as a food dye [3]. Haematococcus pluvialis is a green microalga, which accumulates high
astaxanthin content under stress conditions such as high salinity, nitrogen deficiency, high temperature
and light [46]. Astaxanthin produced from H. pluvialis is a main source for human consumption [7].
It is used as a source of pigment in the feed for salmon, trout and shrimp [1,3]. For dietary supplement
in humans and animals, astaxanthin is obtained from seafood or extracted from H. pluvialis [8]. The
consumption of astaxanthin can prevent or reduce risk of various disorders in humans and
animals [7,8]. The effects of astaxanthin on human health nutrition have been published by various
authors [713]. In our previous reviews, we included recent findings on the potential effects of
astaxanthin and its esters on biological activities [1418]. The use of astaxanthin as a nutritional
supplement has been rapidly growing in foods, feeds, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. This present
review paper provides information on astaxanthin sources, extraction methods, storage stability,
biological activities, and health benefits for the prevention of various diseases and use in
commercial applications.
2. Source of Astaxanthin
The natural sources of astaxanthin are algae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp and crayfish.
Astaxanthin from various microorganism sources are presented in Table 1. The commercial
astaxanthin is mainly from Phaffia yeast, Haematococcus and through chemical synthesis.
Haematococcus pluvialis is one of the best sources of natural astaxanthin [1720]. Astaxanthin content
in wild and farmed salmonids are shown in Figure 1. Among the wild salmonids, the maximum
astaxanthin content in wild Oncorhynchus species was reported in the range of 2638 mg/kg flesh in
sockeye salmon whereas low astaxanthin content was reported in chum [20]. Astaxanthin content in
farmed Atlantic salmon was reported as 68 mg/kg flesh. Astaxanthin is available in the European
(6 mg/kg flesh) and Japanese market (25 mg/kg flesh) from large trout. Shrimp, crab and salmon can
serve as dietary sources of astaxanthin [20]. Wild caught salmon is a good source of astaxanthin. In
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 130
order to get 3.6 mg of astaxanthin one can eat 165 grams of salmon per day. Astaxanthin supplement at
3.6 mg per day can be beneficial to health as reported by Iwamoto et al. [21].
Table 1. Microorganism sources of astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin (%) on the Dry Weight Basis
Haematococcus pluvialis
Haematococcus pluvialis (K-0084)
Haematococcus pluvialis (Local isolation)
Haematococcus pluvialis (AQSE002)
Haematococcus pluvialis (K-0084)
Chlorella zofingiensis
Neochloris wimmeri
Enteromorpha intestinalis
Ulva lactuca
Catenella repens
Agrobacterium aurantiacum
Paracoccus carotinifaciens (NITE SD 00017)
Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (JH)
Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (VKPM Y2476)
Thraustochytrium sp. CHN-3 (FERM P-18556)
Pandalus borealis
Pandalus clarkia
Figure 1. Astaxanthin levels (mg/kg flesh) of wild and farmed (*) salmonids [20].
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 131
3. Structure of Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is a member of the xanthophylls, because it contains not only carbon and hydrogen but
also oxygen atoms (Figure 2). Astaxanthin consists of two terminal rings joined by a polyene chain.
This molecule has two asymmetric carbons located at the 3, 3 positions of the β-ionone ring with
hydroxyl group (-OH) on either end of the molecule. In case one, hydroxyl group reacts with a fatty
acid then it forms mono-ester, whereas when both hydroxyl groups are reacted with fatty acids the
result is termed a di-ester. Astaxanthin exists in stereoisomers, geometric isomers, free and esterified
forms [1]. All of these forms are found in natural sources. The stereoisomers (3S, 3S) and (3R 3R) are
the most abundant in nature. Haematococcus biosynthesizes the (3S, 3′S)-isomer whereas yeast
Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous produces (3R, 3′R)-isomer [10]. Synthetic astaxanthin comprises
isomers of (3S, 3′S) (3R, 3S) and (3R, 3′R). The primary stereoisomer of astaxanthin found in the
Antarctic krill Euphausia superba is 3R, 3R which contains mainly esterified form, whereas in wild
Atlantic salmon it is 3S, 3′S which occurs as the free form [37]. The relative percentage of astaxanthin
and its esters in krill, copepod, shrimp and shell is shown in Figure 3. Astaxanthin has the molecular
formula C40H52O4. Its molar mass is 596.84 g/mol.
Figure 2. Planner structure of astaxanthin.
Figure 3. Astaxanthin and its esters from various sources [19,20].
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 132
4. Extraction and Analysis of Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is a lipophilic compound and can be dissolved in solvents and oils. Solvents, acids,
edible oils, microwave assisted and enzymatic methods are used for astaxanthin extraction.
Astaxanthin is accumulated in encysted cells of Haematococcus. Astaxanthin in Haematococcus was
extracted with different acid treatments, hydrochloric acid giving up to 80% recovery of the
pigment [38]. When encysted cells were treated with 40% acetone at 80 °C for 2 min followed by
kitalase, cellulose, abalone and acetone powder, 70% recovery of astaxanthin was obtained [39]. High
astaxanthin yield was observed with treatment of hydrochloric acid at various temperatures for 15 and
30 min using sonication [40]. In another study, vegetable oils (soyabean, corn, olive and grape seed)
were used to extract astaxanthin from Haematococcus. The culture was mixed with oils, and the
astaxanthin inside the cell was extracted into the oils, with the highest recovery of 93% with olive
oil [41]. Astaxanthin (1.3 mg/g) was extracted from Phaffia rhodozyma under acid conditions [42].
Microwave assisted extraction at 75 °C for 5 min resulted in 75% of astaxanthin; however, astaxanthin
content was high in acetone extract [43,44]. Astaxanthin yield from Haematococcus was 80%90%
using supercritical fluid extraction with ethanol and sunflower oil as co-solvent [4547]. Astaxanthin
was extracted repeatedly with solvents, pooled and evaporated by rotary evaporator, then re-dissolved
in solvent and absorbance of extract was measured at 476480 nm to estimate the astaxanthin
content [17]. Further the extract can be analyzed for quantification of astaxanthin using high pressure
liquid chromatography and identified by mass spectra [18].
5. Storage and Stability of Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin stability was assessed in various carriers and storage conditions. Astaxanthin derived
from Haematococcus and its stability in various edible oils was determined [48]. Astaxanthin was
stable at 7090 °C in ricebran, gingelly and palm oils with 84%90% of retention of astaxanthin
content which can be used in food, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications, whereas astaxanthin
content was reduced at 120 and 150 °C [48]. Astaxanthin nanodispersions stability was evaluated in
skimmed milk, orange juice and deionized water was used as a control [49]. It was found that
degradation of astaxanthin was significantly higher in skimmed milk than orange juice. In another
study, stability of astaxanthin biomass was examined after drying and storage at various conditions for
nine weeks [50]. The results showed that degradation of astaxanthin was as low as 10% in biomass
dried at 180/110 °C and stored at 21 °C under nitrogen after nine weeks of storage. The stability of
astaxanthin from Phaffia rhodozyma was studied and it was found that stability was high at pH 4.0 and
at a lower temperature [51]. The storage stability of astaxanthin was enhanced at 4 °C and 25 °C in a
complex mixture of hydroxyproply-β-cyclodextrin and water [52]. Astaxanthin stability was
investigated using microencapsulation with chitosan, polymeric nanospheres, emulsions and
β-cyclodextrin as reported by various authors [5356].
6. Biochemistry of Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin contains conjugated double bonds, hydroxyl and keto groups. It has both lipophilic and
hydrophilic properties [1]. The red color is due to the conjugated double bonds at the center of the
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 133
compound. This type of conjugated double bond acts as a strong antioxidant by donating the electrons
and reacting with free radicals to convert them to be more stable product and terminate free radical
chain reaction in a wide variety of living organisms [8]. Astaxanthin showed better biological activity
than other antioxidants [11], because it could link with cell membrane from inside to outside
(Figure 4).
Figure 4. Superior position of astaxanthin in the cell membrane [12].
7. Bioavailability and Pharmacokinetics of Astaxanthin
7.1. Bioavailability
Dietary oils may enhance the absorption of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin with combination of fish oil
promoted hypolipidemic/hypocholesterolemic effects in plasma and its increased phagocytic activity
of activated neutrophils when compared with astaxanthin and fish oil alone [57]. Astaxanthin was
superior to fish oil in particular by improving immune response and lowering the risk of vascular and
infectious diseases. The proliferation activity of T- and B-lymphocytes was diminished followed by
lower levels of O2, H2O2 and NO production, increased antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase,
catalase and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and calcium release in cytosol after administration of
astaxanthin with fish oil [58]. Bioavailability and antioxidant properties of astaxanthin were enhanced
in rat plasma and liver tissues after administration of Haematococcus biomass dispersed in olive
oil [14,15,17].
Astaxanthin is a fat soluble compound, with increased absorption when consumed with dietary oils.
Astaxanthin was shown to significantly influence immune function in several in vitro and in vivo
assays [14,15,17]. Lipophilic compounds such as astaxanthin are usually transformed metabolically
before they are excreted, and metabolites of astaxanthin have been detected in various rat tissues [59].
Astaxanthin bioavailability in human plasma was confirmed with single dosage of 100 mg [60]. Its
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 134
accumulation in humans was found after administration of Haematococcus biomass as source of
astaxanthin [61]. Astaxanthin bioavailability in humans was enhanced by lipid based formulations;
high amounts of carotenes solubilized into the oil phase of the food matrix can lead to greater
bioavailability [62]. A recent study reported that astaxanthin accumulation in rat plasma and liver was
observed after feeding of Haematococcus biomass as source of astaxanthin [14,15,17].
7.2. Pharmacokinetics
Carotenoids are absorbed into the body like lipids and transported via the lymphatic system into the
liver. The absorption of carotenoids is dependent on the accompanying dietary components. A high
cholesterol diet may increase carotenoid absorption while a low fat diet reduces its absorption.
Astaxanthin mixes with bile acid after ingestion and make micelles in the intestinum tenue. The
micelles with astaxanthin are partially absorbed by intestinal mucosal cells. Intestinal mucosal cells
incorporate astaxanthin into chylomicra. Chylomicra with astaxanthin are digested by lipoprotein
lipase after releasing into the lymph within the systemic circulation, and chylomicron remnants are
rapidly removed by the liver and other tissues. Astaxanthin is assimilated with lipoproteins and
transported into the tissues [62]. Of several naturally occurring carotenoids, astaxanthin is considered
one of the best carotenoids being able to protect cells, lipids and membrane lipoproteins against
oxidative damage.
8. Biological Activities of Astaxanthin and Its Health Benefits
8.1. Antioxidant Effects
An antioxidant is a molecule which can inhibit oxidation. Oxidative damage is initiated by free
radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). These molecules have very high reactivity and are
produced by normal aerobic metabolism in organisms. Excess oxidative molecules may react with
proteins, lipids and DNA through chain reaction, to cause protein and lipid oxidation and DNA
damage which are associated with various disorders. This type of oxidative molecules can be inhibited
by endogenous and exogenous antioxidants such as carotenoids. Carotenoids contain polyene chain,
long conjugated double bonds, which carry out antioxidant activities by quenching singlet oxygen and
scavenging radicals to terminate chain reactions. The biological benefits of carotenoids may be due to
their antioxidant properties attributed to their physical and chemical interactions with cell membranes.
Astaxanthin had higher antioxidant activity when compared to various carotenoids such as lutein,
lycopene, α-carotene and β-carotene reported by Naguib et al. [63]. The antioxidant enzymes catalase,
superoxide dismutase, peroxidase and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) were high in
rat plasma and liver after feeding Haematococcus biomass as source of astaxanthin [17]. Astaxanthin
in H. pluvialis offered the best protection from free radicals in rats followed by β-carotene and
lutein [15,17]. Astaxanthin contains a unique molecular structure in the presence of hydroxyl and keto
moieties on each ionone ring, which are responsible for the high antioxidant properties [10,64].
Antioxidant activity of astaxanthin was 10 times more than zeaxanthin, lutein, canthaxanthin,
β-carotene and 100 times higher than α-tocopherol [65]. The oxo functional group in carotenoids has
higher antioxidant activity without pro-oxidative contribution [66]. The polyene chain in astaxanthin
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 135
traps radicals in the cell membrane, while the terminal ring of astaxanthin could scavenge radicals at
the outer and inner parts of cell membrane (Figure 4). Antioxidant enzyme activities were evaluated in
the serum after astaxanthin was supplemented in the diet of rabbits, showing enhanced activity of
superoxide dismutase and thioredoxin reductase whereas paraoxonase was inhibited in the
oxidative-induced rabbits [67]. Antioxidant enzyme levels were increased when astaxanthin fed to
ethanol-induced gastric ulcer rats [68].
8.2. Anti-Lipid Peroxidation Activity
Astaxanthin has a unique molecular structure which enables it to stay both in and outside the cell
membrane. It gives better protection than β-carotene and Vitamin C which can be positioned inside the
lipid bilayer. It serves as a safeguard against oxidative damage by various mechanisms, like quenching
of singlet oxygen; scavenging of radicals to prevent chain reactions; preservation of membrane
structure by inhibiting lipid peroxidation; enhancement of immune system function and regulation of
gene expression. Astaxanthin and its esters showed 80% anti-lipid peroxidation activity in ethanol
induced gastric ulcer rats and skin cancer rats [14,68]. Astaxanthin inhibited lipid peroxidation in
biological samples reported by various authors [14,15,17,18,68,69].
8.3. Anti-Inflammation
Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant to terminate the induction of inflammation in biological
systems. Astaxanthin acts against inflammation. Algal cell extracts of Haematococcus and
Chlorococcum significantly reduced bacterial load and gastric inflammation in H. pylori-infected
mice [16,70,71]. Park et al. [72] reported astaxanthin reduced the DNA oxidative damage biomarker
inflammation, thus enhancing immune response in young healthy adult female human subjects.
Haines et al. [73] reported lowered bronchoalveolar lavage fluid inflammatory cell numbers, and
enhanced cAMP, cGMP levels in lung tissues after feeding astaxanthin with Ginkgo biloba extract and
Vitamin C. Another study showed astaxanthin esters and total carotenoids from Haematococcus
exerted a dose-dependent gastroprotective effect on acute, gastric lesions in ethanol-induced gastric
ulcers in rats. This may be due to inhibition of H1, K1 ATPase, upregulation of mucin content and an
increase in antioxidant activities [68]. Astaxanthin showed protective effect on high glucose induced
oxidative stress, inflammation and apoptosis in proximal tubular epithelial cells. Astaxanthin is a
promising molecule for the treatment of ocular inflammation in eyes as reported by the Japanese
researchers [74,75]. Astaxanthin can prevent skin thickening and reduce collagen reduction against UV
induced skin damage [14,76,77].
8.4. Anti-Diabetic Activity
Generally, oxidative stress levels are very high in diabetes mellitus patients. It is induced by
hyperglycemia, due to the dysfunction of pancreatic β-cells and tissue damage in patients. Astaxanthin
could reduce the oxidative stress caused by hyperglycemia in pancreatic β-cells and also improve
glucose and serum insulin levels [78]. Astaxanthin can protect pancreatic β-cells against glucose
toxicity. It was also shown to be a good immunological agent in the recovery of lymphocyte
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 136
dysfunctions associated with diabetic rats [79]. In another study, ameliorate oxidative stress in
streptozotocin-diabetes rats were inhibited by the combination of astaxanthin with α-tocopherol [80]. It
is also inhibited glycation and glycated protein induced cytotoxicity in human umbilical vein
endothelial cells by preventing lipid/protein oxidation [81]. Improved insulin sensitivity in both
spontaneously hypertensive corpulent rats and mice on high fat plus high fructose diets was observed
after feeding with astaxanthin [8284]. The urinary albumin level in astaxanthin treated diabetic mice
was significantly lower than the control group [78]. Some of the studies demonstrated that astaxanthin
prevents diabetic nephropathy by reduction of the oxidative stress and renal cell damage [8587].
8.5. Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory activity and its effect examined in both
experimental animals and human subjects. Oxidative stress and inflammation are pathophysiological
features of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Astaxanthin is a potential therapeutic agent against
atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease [88]. The efficacy of disodium disuccinate astaxanthin (DDA) in
protecting mycocardium using mycocardial ischemia reperfusion model in animals was evaluated.
Myocardial infarct size was reduced in Sprague Dawley rats, and improved in myocardial salvage in
rabbits after four days of pre-treatment with DDA at 25, 50 and 75 mg/kg body weight [89,90].
Astaxanthin was found in rat mycocardial tissues after pretreatment with DDA at dosage of 150 and
500 mg/kg/day for seven days [91]. Astaxanthin effects on blood pressure in spontaneously
hypertensive rats (SHR), normotensive Wistar Kyoto rats (NWKR) and stroke prone spontaneously
hypertensive rats (SPSHR) were reported [92]. Astaxanthin was found in the plasma, heart, liver,
platelets, and increased basal arterial blood flow in mice fed with astaxanthin derivative [93]. Human
umbilical vien endothelial cells and platelets treated with the astaxanthin showed increased nitric oxide
levels and decrease in peroxynitrite levels [93]. Mice fed 0.08% astaxanthin had higher heart
mitochondrial membrane potential and contractility index compared to the control group [94].
Astaxanthin effects on paraoxonase, thioredoxin reductase activities, oxidative stress parameters and
lipid profile in hypercholesterolemic rabbits were evaluated. Astaxanthin prevented the activities of
those enzymes from hypercholesterolemia induced protein oxidation at the dosages of 100 mg and
500 mg/100 g [67].
8.6. Anticancer Activity
The specific antioxidant dose may be helpful for the early detection of various degenerative
disorders. Reactive oxygen species such as superoxide, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical are
generated in normal aerobic metabolism. Singlet oxygen is generated by photochemical events
whereas peroxyl radicals are produced by lipid peroxidation. These oxidants contribute to aging and
degenerative diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis through oxidation of DNA, proteins and
lipids [95]. Antioxidant compounds decrease mutagenesis and carcinogenesis by inhibiting oxidative
damage to cells. Cellcell communication through gap junctions is lacking in human tumors and its
restoration tends to decrease tumor cell proliferation. Gap junctional communication occurs due to an
increase in the connexin-43 protein via upregulation of the connexin-43 gene. Gap junctional
communication was improved in between the cells by natural carotenoids and retinoids [96].
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 137
Canthaxanthin and astaxanthin derivatives enhanced gap junctional communication between mouse
embryo fibroblasts [9799]. Increased connexin-43 expression in murine fibroblast cells by β-carotene
was reported [100,101]. Astaxanthin showed significant antitumor activity when compared to other
carotenoids like canthaxanthin and β-carotene [102,103]. It also inhibited the growth of fibrosarcoma,
breast, and prostate cancer cells and embryonic fibroblasts [104]. Increased gap junctional intercellular
communication in primary human skin fibroblasts cells were observed when treated with
astaxanthin [99]. Astaxanthin inhibited cell death, cell proliferation and mammary tumors in
chemically induced male/female rats and mice [105109]. H. pluvialis extract inhibited the growth of
human colon cancer cells by arresting cell cycle progression and promoting apoptosis reported by
Palozza et al. [104]. Nitroastaxanthin and 15-nitroastaxanthin are the products of astaxanthin with
peroxynitrite, 15-nitroastaxanthin anticancer properties were evaluated in a mouse model. Epstein-Barr
virus and carcinogenesis in mouse skin papillomas were significantly inhibited by astaxanthin
treatment [110].
8.7. Immuno-Modulation
Immune system cells are very sensitive to free radical damage. The cell membrane contains poly
unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Antioxidants in particular astaxanthin offer protection against free
radical damage to preserve immune-system defenses. There are reports on astaxanthin and its effect on
immunity in animals under laboratory conditions however clinical research is lacking in humans.
Astaxanthin showed higher immuno-modulating effects in mouse model when compared to
β-carotene [111]. Enhanced antibody production and decreased humoral immune response in older
animals after dietary supplementation of astaxanthin was reported [111,112]. Astaxanthin produced
immunoglobulins in human cells in a laboratory study [113]. Eight week-supplementation of
astaxanthin in humans [72] resulted in increased blood levels of astaxanthin and improved activity of
natural killer cells which targeted and destroyed cells infected with viruses. In this study, T and B cells
were increased, DNA damage was low, and C-reactive protein (CRP) was significantly lower in the
astaxanthin supplemented group [67,102,114]. Recent reports on astaxanthin biological activities are
presented in Table 2.
Table 2. Astaxanthin biological activities in in vitro and in vivo models.
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 138
9. Safety and Dose of Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is safe, with no side effects when it is consumed with food. It is lipid soluble,
accumulates in animal tissues after feeding of astaxanthin to rats and no toxic effects were
found [15,17,133]. Excessive astaxanthin consumption leads to yellow to reddish pigmentation of the
skin in animals. Astaxanthin is incorporated into fish feed, resulting in the fish skin becoming reddish
in color. Antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase
levels significantly increased in rats after oral dosage of astaxanthin [14,15]. A study reported that
blood pressure (bp) was reduced in stroke prone rats and in hypertensive rats by feeding 50 mg/kg
astaxanthin for five weeks and 14 days, respectively [134]. Astaxanthin was also shown significant
protection against naproxen induced gastric, antral ulcer and inhibited lipid peroxidation levels in
gastric mucosa [67,135]. Astaxanthin accumulation in eyes was observed when astaxanthin was fed to
rats [136]. Astaxanthin extracted from Paracoccus carotinifaciens showed potential antioxidant and
also anti-ulcer properties in murine models as reported by Murata et al. [137]. Astaxanthin
bioavailability was increased with supplement of lipid based formulations [14,15,17,138].
Supratherapeutic concentrations of astaxanthin had no adverse effects on platelet, coagulation and
fibrinolytic function [139]. Research has so far reported no significant side effects of astaxanthin
consumption in animals and humans. These results support the safety of astaxanthin for future
clinical studies.
It is recommended to administer astaxanthin with omega-3 rich seed oils such as chia, flaxseed,
fish, nutella, walnuts and almonds. The combination of astaxanthin (48 mg) with foods, soft gels and
capsules and cream is available in the market. Recommended dose of astaxanthin is 24 mg/day. A
study reported that no adverse effects were found with the administration of astaxanthin (6 mg/day) in
adult human subjects [140]. Astaxanthin effects on human blood rheology were investigated in adult
men subjects with a single-blind method after administration of astaxanthin at 6 mg/day for
10 days [141]. Recent studies on astaxanthin dosage effects on human health benefits were presented
in Table 3.
Table 3. Health benefits of astaxanthin in human subjects.
Duration of Experiment
Subjects in Humans
Dosage (mg/day)
Benefits of Astaxanthin
2 weeks
1.8, 3.6, 14.4 and 21.6
Reduction of LDL oxidation
Single dose
Middle aged male
Astaxanthin take up by VLDL
8 weeks
Healthy females
0.2 and 8
Decreased plasma
8-hydoxy-2-deoxyguanosine and
lowered in CRP levels
8 weeks
Healthy adults
Assessed by blood pressure
10 days
Healthy males
Improved blood rheology
12 weeks
Healthy non-smoking
finnish males
Decreased oxidation of fatty acids
12 months
Age related macular
Improved central retinal
dysfunction in age related macular
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 139
Table 3. Cont.
12 weeks
Middle aged/elderly
Improved Cog health battery scores
12 weeks
Middle aged/elderly
Improved groton maze learning
test scores
8 or 6 weeks
Healthy female or male
Improved skin winkle, corneocyte
layer, epidermis and dermis
2 weeks
Disease (bilateral
Improved superoxide scavenging
activity and lowered hydroperoxides
in the human aqueous humor
LDL, Low-density lipoproteins, VLDL, Very low-density lipoprotein, CRP, C-reactive protein.
10. Commercial Applications of Astaxanthin
In the present scenario, production of astaxanthin from natural sources has become one of the most
successful activities in biotechnology. Astaxanthin has great demand in food, feed, nutraceutical and
pharmaceutical applications. This has promoted major efforts to improve astaxanthin production from
biological sources instead of synthetic ones. According to the current literature, astaxanthin is used in
various commercial applications in the market. Astaxanthin products are available in the form of
capsule, soft gel, tablet, powder, biomass, cream, energy drink, oil and extract in the market (Table 4).
Some of the astaxanthin products were made with combination of other carotenoids, multivitamins,
herbal extracts and omega-3, 6 fatty acids. Patent applications are available on astaxanthin for
preventing bacterial infection, inflammation, vascular failure, cancer, cardiovascular diseases,
inhibiting lipid peroxidation, reducing cell damage and body fat, and improving brain function and
skin thickness (Table 5). Astaxanthin containing microorganisms or animals find many applications in
a wide range of commercial activities, the reason for which astaxanthin enriched microalgae
production can provide more attractive benefits.
Table 4. Astaxanthin products from various companies and its use for various purposes.
Brand Name
Dosage form
Company Name
Physician Formulas
Soft gel/Tablets
2 mg/4 mg-AX
Physician formulas vitamin
Eyesight Rx
AX, vitamin-C, plant
Physician formulas Vitamin
Vision function
Soft gel
1.5 mg-AX, EPA, DHA
Physician formulas vitamin
Astaxanthin Ultra
Soft gel
4 mg-AX
Astaxanthin Gold
Soft gel
4 mg-AX
Best Astaxanthin
Soft gel
6 mg-AX, CX
Cell membrane/blood
4 mg AX, 325 mg
Omega-3 ALA
Dr. Mercola premium
Soft gel
5 mg-AX
Solgar global manufacture
Healthy skin
AX, herbal extracts
True botanica
Face moisturizing
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 140
Table 4. Cont.
astavita ex
8 mg AX, T3
Fuji Chemical Industry
astavita SPORT
9 mg AX, T3 and zinc
Fuji Chemical Industry
Sports nutrition
Oil, powder, water
soluble, biomass
AX, AX-esters
Fuji Chemical Industry
Soft gel, tablet,
beverages, animal
feed, capsules
Fuji Chemical Industry
Purity and products evidence
based nutritional supplements
Pure Encapsulations
Synergistic nutrition
Zanthin Xp-3
Soft gel capsules
2 mg, 4 mg-AX
Human body
Micro Algae Super
Soft gel
4 mg AX
Anumed intel biomed
(Information obtained from the respective company websites); AX, astaxanthin, AXE, astaxanthin esters, CX,
canthaxanthin, DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid, ALA, alpha linolenic acid, T3, tocotrienol.
Table 5. Recent patent applications for astaxanthin.
Patent No.
Natural astaxanthin extract reduces DNA oxidation
Reduce endogenous oxidative
Neurocyte protective agent
Crystal forms of astaxanthin
Nutritional dosage
Use of carotenoids and carotenoid derivatives analogs
for reduction/ inhibition of certain negative effects of
COX inhibitors
Inhibit of lipid peroxidation
Composition for body fat reduction
Inhibits body fat
Carotenoid oxidation products as chemopreventive and
chemotherapeutic agents
Cancer prevention
Formulation for oral administration with beneficial
effects on the cardiovascular system
Cardiovascular protection
Algal and algal extract dietary supplement composition
Dietary supplement
Method for improving cognitive performance
Improving brain function
Method of preventing discoloration of carotenoid
pigment and container used therefor
Prevention of discoloration
Pulverulent carotenoid preparation for colouring drinks
Inflammatory disease treatment
Preventing inflammatory disease
Agent for alleviating vascular failure
Preventing vascular failure
Feed additive for improved pigment retention
Fish feed
Carotenoid containing compositions and methods
Preventing bacterial infections
Agent for improving carcass performance in
finishing hogs
Food supplements
Composition and method to alleviate joint pain
Reduced joint pain and
symptoms of osteoarthritis
Baked food produced from astaxanthin containing dough
Astaxanthin used in baked food
Mar. Drugs 2014, 12 141
11. Conclusion
The current research data on astaxanthin is encouraging and have resulted from well controlled
trials in in vitro and in vivo models. Astaxanthin showed potential effects on various diseases including
cancers, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, liver, neurodegenerative, and skin
diseases. Its antioxidant properties are used against oxidative damage in diseased cells. Recently, our
laboratory isolated and characterized astaxanthin and its esters from Haematococcus and checked their
biological activities in in vitro and in vivo models, confirming that astaxanthin and its esters show
potential biological activities in animal models. However, there is a lack of research on astaxanthin
esters (mono-di) and their metabolic pathways in biological systems. Future research should focus on
effects of astaxanthin esters on various biological activities and their uses in nutraceutical and
pharmaceutical applications. Astaxanthin mono-diesters may increase biological activities better than
the free form which can be easily absorbed into the metabolism. Further research requires to be
investigated on their metabolic pathways and also molecular studies in in vitro and in vivo models for
their use in commercial purposes.
The first author thanks the University of Malaya Research Grant (UMRG RP001i-13SUS),
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for providing financial support for this project.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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... Bechor et al. [167] showed that 9-cis-β-carotene from the diet accumulates in peritoneal macrophages and increases cholesterol efflux to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and hitherto inhibits atherosclerosis. The mechanisms of action of reported anti-CVD activities of carotenoids are not unconnected to their inhibitions of the Nrf2/Keap1, NF-κB, and MAPK signaling pathways and their ability to increase cholesterol efflux to HDL [168]. ...
... The absorption of carotenoids is a function of the diet. A diet rich in cholesterol increases the absorption of carotenoids, while a diet low in cholesterol reduces the absorption of carotenoids [168]. The bioavailability of trans-carotenoids is better than cis-carotenoids. ...
... B-carotene takes 5-7 days, while lycopene takes 2-3 days to be eliminated. Astaxanthin's half-life (t 1 2 ) is 16 h [168]. Carotenoids are well tolerated with minimal side effects [168]; carotenoids are also non-toxic. ...
Full-text available
Carotenoids are isoprenoid-derived natural products produced in plants, algae, fungi, and photosynthetic bacteria. Most animals cannot synthesize carotenoids because the biosynthetic machinery to create carotenoids de novo is absent in animals, except arthropods. Carotenoids are biosynthesized from two C20 geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) molecules made from isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) via the methylerythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) route. Carotenoids can be extracted by a variety of methods, including maceration, Soxhlet extraction, supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), microwave-assisted extraction (MAE), accelerated solvent extraction (ASE), ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE), pulsed electric field (PEF)-assisted extraction, and enzyme-assisted extraction (EAE). Carotenoids have been reported to exert various biochemical actions, including the inhibition of the Akt/mTOR, Bcl-2, SAPK/JNK, JAK/STAT, MAPK, Nrf2/Keap1, and NF-κB signaling pathways and the ability to increase cholesterol efflux to HDL. Carotenoids are absorbed in the intestine. A handful of carotenoids and carotenoid-based compounds are in clinical trials, while some are currently used as medicines. The application of metabolic engineering techniques for carotenoid production, whole-genome sequencing, and the use of plants as cell factories to produce specialty carotenoids presents a promising future for carotenoid research. In this review, we discussed the biosynthesis and extraction of carotenoids, the roles of carotenoids in human health, the metabolism of carotenoids, and carotenoids as a source of drugs and supplements.
... Rostaf., Chromochloris zofingiensis (Donz) Fucikova and L. A. Lewis, Chlorococcum sp., and Phaffia rhodozyma M.W. Mill., Yoney. and Soneda-ASX enters the food chain through crustaceans and predatory fish such as salmon, in whose meat it can easily reach 5-10 mg/kg [178]. ...
... Being a very lipophilic compound, it has extremely low water solubility, which prevents its dispersibility and causes a low absorption rate [55,190]. After ingestion, ASX mixes with bile acid, forming micelles in the small intestine, partially absorbed by intestinal mucosa cells, which will incorporate astaxanthin into chylomicrons [178]. After their release into the lymph within the systemic circulation, chylomicrons with ASX are digested by lipoprotein lipase, ASX is assimilated with lipoproteins and transported to tissues, and chylomicrons remnants are quickly removed by the liver and other tissues [178]. ...
... After ingestion, ASX mixes with bile acid, forming micelles in the small intestine, partially absorbed by intestinal mucosa cells, which will incorporate astaxanthin into chylomicrons [178]. After their release into the lymph within the systemic circulation, chylomicrons with ASX are digested by lipoprotein lipase, ASX is assimilated with lipoproteins and transported to tissues, and chylomicrons remnants are quickly removed by the liver and other tissues [178]. In nature, astaxanthin is predominantly found in the form of mono-and diesters, being, respectively, esterified with one or two units of fatty acids in hydroxyl groups, or in the form of carotenoproteins when conjugated with proteins [187]. ...
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Current studies show that approximately one-third of all cancer-related deaths are linked to diet and several cancer forms are preventable with balanced nutrition, due to dietary compounds being able to reverse epigenetic abnormalities. An appropriate diet in cancer patients can lead to changes in gene expression and enhance the efficacy of therapy. It has been demonstrated that nutraceuticals can act as powerful antioxidants at the cellular level as well as anticarcinogenic agents. This review is focused on the best studies on worldwide-available plant-derived nutraceuticals: curcumin, resveratrol, sulforaphane, indole-3-carbinol, quercetin, astaxanthin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, and lycopene. These compounds have an enhanced effect on epigenetic changes such as histone modification via HDAC (histone deacetylase), HAT (histone acetyltransferase) inhibition, DNMT (DNA methyltransferase) inhibition, and non-coding RNA expression. All of these nutraceuticals are reported to positively modulate the epigenome, reducing cancer incidence. Furthermore, the current review addresses the issue of the low bioavailability of nutraceuticals and how to overcome the drawbacks related to their oral administration. Understanding the mechanisms by which nutraceuticals influence gene expression will allow their incorporation into an “epigenetic diet” that could be further capitalized on in the therapy of cancer.
... Their uses are mostly based on its antioxidant activity and capacity to protect skin against UV-induced damage. Previous studies have also shown astaxanthin protects against inflammation, improves cell-cell communication and lipid metabolism [104]. ...
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Melanoma cells are highly invasive and metastatic tumor cells and commonly express molecular alterations that contribute to multidrug resistance (e.g., BRAFV600E mutation). Conventional treatment is not effective in a long term, requiring an exhaustive search for new alternatives. Recently, carotenoids from microalgae have been investigated as adjuvant in antimelanoma therapy due to their safety and acceptable clinical tolerability. Many of them are currently used as food supplements. In this review, we have compiled several studies that show microalgal carotenoids inhibit cell proliferation, cell migration and invasion, as well as induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in various melanoma cell lines. MAPK and NF-ĸB pathway, MMP and apoptotic factors are frequently affected after exposure to microalgal carotenoids. Fucoxanthin, astaxanthin and zeaxanthin are the main carotenoids investigated, in both in vitro and in vivo experimental models. Preclinical data indicate these compounds exhibit direct antimelanoma effect but are also capable of restoring melanoma cells sensitivity to conventional chemotherapy (e.g., vemurafenib and dacarbazine).
... Haematococcus as a human supplement-Haematococcus biomass and astaxanthin are permitted as feed colors for salmonid fish in the USA and Europe [67]. Both can be used as nutrient ingredients in foods. ...
Full-text available
The antioxidant and food pigment astaxanthin (AX) can be produced by several microorganisms, in auto- or heterotrophic conditions. Regardless of the organism, AX concentrations in culture media are low, typically about 10–40 mg/L. Therefore, large amounts of nutrients and water are necessary to prepare culture media. Using low-cost substrates such as agro-industrial solid and liquid wastes is desirable for cost reduction. This opens up the opportunity of coupling AX production to other existing processes, taking advantage of available residues or co-products in a biorefinery approach. Indeed, the scientific literature shows that many attempts are being made to produce AX from residues. However, this brings challenges regarding raw material variability, process conditions, product titers, and downstream processing. This text overviews nutritional requirements and suitable culture media for producing AX-rich biomass: production and productivity ranges, residue pretreatment, and how the selected microorganism and culture media combinations affect further biomass production and quality. State-of-the-art technology indicates that, while H. pluvialis will remain an important source of AX, X. dendrorhous may be used in novel processes using residues. View Full-Text:
... Commercial production of PBPs requires rapid and efficient extraction followed by efficient separation of unwanted proteins by an appropriate purification strategy. However, extraction of PBPs from cyanobacteria is notoriously difficult due to their robust multi-layered cell walls and extremely small size [156,157]. Several methods have been used to extract PBPs from various cyanobacterial cultures, including freezing and thawing [158,159], ultrasonic [160,161], and the use of enzymes such as lysozyme [162], a combination of EDTA and lysozyme [157,163,164]. ...
Increasing awareness of the harmful effects of synthetic colorants has led consumers to favor the use of natural alternatives such as plant or microbial pigments in food and cosmetics. Cyanobacteria are a rich source of many natural biopigments that are of high commercial value. In the market, bio-based pigments are usually sold as extracts to reduce purification costs. Various cell disruption methods are used for pigment extraction, such as sonication, homogenization, high pressure, supercritical CO2 extraction, enzymatic extraction, as well as other promising novel extraction methods that make the production of cyanobacterial pigments economically viable. In addition, a continuous cultivation system is considered the most suitable cultivation mode for large-scale biomass production. However, a major limitation in the large-scale production of cyanobacterial pigments is the installation and operation costs. Thus, basic and applied research is still needed to overcome such limitations and enable cyanobacteria to enter the global market. This review focuses on various cyanobacterial pigments, their applications, and current biotechnological approaches to increase the production of biopigments for their potential use in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic industries. The current state of production technologies based on either open pond systems or closed photobioreactors was compared. The potential of scientific and technological advances to increase yield and reduce production costs of cyanobacteria biomass-based pigments was also discussed.
The need for developing renewable materials to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels as a feedstock for a wide variety of uses is becoming increasingly widely acknowledged in society. Chitin, the second most abundant nitrogenous natural polymer derived from renewable biomass resources, have attracted significant interest as a promising natural source to produce functional materials due to their unique properties, abundant availability, and environmental appeal. Chitin is present in huge amounts in seafood waste, which is severely underutilized, resulting in resource wastage. An appealing alternative is to upcycle chitin-containing trash into value-added goods, to meet the sustainable development requirements. Since the large quantities of seafood waste remain underexploited, their utilization can potentially bring both ecological and economic benefits. The present review discusses the general properties of chitin and chitosan as natural polysaccharides, highlighting the innovative and eco-friendly methods for recovery of chitin and its derivatives from waste sources. The recent trends of the application of chitin and chitosan in various sectors are explored, highlighting the nexus between the generation and management of seafood waste and its transformation into valuable commercial products as a solution.
Aquaculture contributes remarkably to the global economy and food security through seafood production, an important part of the global food supply chain. The success of this industry depends heavily on aquafeeds, and the nutritional composition of the feed is an important factor for the quality, productivity, and profitability of aquaculture species. The sustainability of the aquaculture industry depends on the accessibility of quality feed ingredients, such as fishmeal and fish oil. These traditional feedstuffs are under increasing significant pressure due to the rapid expansion of aquaculture for human consumption and the decline of natural fish harvest. In this review, we evaluated the development of microalgal molecules in aquaculture and expanded the use of these high-value compounds in the production of aquaculture diets. Microalgae-derived functional ingredients emerged as one of the promising alternatives for aquafeed production with positive health benefits. Several compounds found in microalgae, including carotenoids (lutein, astaxanthin, and β-carotene), essential amino acids (leucine, valine, and threonine), β-1-3-glucan, essential oils (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid), minerals, and vitamins, are of high nutritional value to aquaculture.
A feeding experiment was carried out to compare the effects of dietary synthetic astaxanthin and Haematococcus pluvialis on growth, antioxidant capacity, immune response and hepato-morphology of Oncorhynchus mykiss under cage culture with flowing freshwater. Three isonitrogenous and isolipidic diets were formulated with or without synthetic astaxanthin and H. pluvialis and were administered to O. mykiss for 56 days. The results showed that growth performance and muscle lipid of O. mykiss were significantly improved by diet supplemented with synthetic astaxanthin or H. pluvialis. Feed coefficient ratio of O. mykiss fed the diets supplemented with synthetic astaxanthin or H. pluvialis was lower than that of fish fed the control diet. Besides, dietary synthetic astaxanthin or H. pluvialis supplementation significantly improved dorsal muscle pigmentation of O. mykiss. The beneficial effects on growth performance and pigmentation were more evident in synthetic astaxanthin than that in H. pluvialis. Synthetic astaxanthin or H. pluvialis supplementation activated Nrf2-ARE pathway, enhanced superoxide dismutase activity and decreased MDA content in the liver. Furthermore, synthetic astaxanthin or H. pluvialis improved the non-specific immunity by activating lysozyme and complement system, exerted anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin 1β, interleukin 8 and tumor necrosis factor-α) and improved the liver morphology. Based on these findings, dietary synthetic astaxanthin and H. pluvialis supplementation have a beneficial effect on the growth performance, antioxidant capacity, innate immune response and liver health of O. mykiss.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have biological roles in controlling oxidative stress. Astaxanthin (AST) may regulate circulating miRNAs in cardiovascular diseases (CVDs); therefore, our study aimed to evaluate the effect of AST on miRNA involved in CVDs. A systematic literature search from inception to August 2022 resulted in 80 preliminary studies; 15 articles were included. In vitro studies indicated that AST up-regulated miRNAs compromised miR-138, miR-7, miR-29a-3p, and miR-200a, while down-regulated miR-382-5p, miR-31-5p, and miR-21. In vivo articles revealed that AST increased the expression of miR-124, miR-7, miR-29a-3p, and miR-200a but decreased miR-21 and miR-31-5p and the only clinical study showed a drop in miR-146a. The findings indicate that AST regulated different pathways of miRNAs implicated in various conditions. Therefore AST as a new therapeutic strategy could be essential in preventing and controlling CVDs. However, more studies, including clinical trials, are needed to determine the influence of AST on miRNAs associated with CVDs.
Acetaminophen (APAP)-induced liver injury (AILI) is a common liver disease in clinical practice. Only one clinically approved drug, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), for the treatment of AILI is available in clinics, but novel treatment strategies are still needed due to the complicated pathological changes of AILI and the side effects of NAC. Here, we found that astaxanthin (ASX) can prevent AILI through the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway. After treatment with ASX, there was a positive activation of the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway in AILI models both in vivo and in vitro accompanied by enhanced autophagy and reduced ferroptosis. In APAP-challenged L02 liver cells, ASX reduced autophagy and enhanced apoptosis of the cells. Furthermore, we developed ASX-loaded hollow mesoporous silica nanoparticles (HMSN@ASX) to improve the aqueous solubility of ASX and targeted delivery of ASX to the liver and then significantly improve the therapeutic effects. Taken together, we found that ASX can protect against AILI by activating the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway, which mainly affects oxidative stress, autophagy, and ferroptosis processes, and the HMSN@ASX nanosystem can target the liver to enhance the treatment efficiency of AILI.
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Variations in protein, lipid, carbohydrate and astaxanthin content of Enteromorpha intestinalis, Ulva lactuca and Catenella repens were documented over a 10 months period from September 2007 to June 2008. The macroalgal species were collected from six sampling stations of Indian Sundarbans, a Gangetic delta at the apex of Bay of Bengal. On dry weight basis, the protein content varied from 4.15±0.02% (in Catenella repens) at Lothian to 14.19±0.09% (in Catenella repens) at Frasergaunge. The lipid content was low and varied from 0.07±0.02% (in Enteromorpha intestinalis) at Lothian to 1.06± 0.12% (in Ulva lactuca) at Gosaba. The level of carbohydrate was very high compared to that of lipid and protein and varied from 21.65± 0.76% (in Catenella repens) at Gosaba to 57.03± 1.63% (in Enteromorpha intestinalis) at Lothian. Astaxanthin values ranged from 97.73± 0.32 ppm (in Catenella repens) at Gosaba to 186.11± 2.72 ppm (in Enteromorpha intestinalis) at Frasergaunge. The values varied over a narrow range in the remaining stations. The results of biochemical composition of macroalgae seem to be strongly influenced by ambient hydrological parameters (surface water salinity, temperature and nitrate content) in the present geographical locale.
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Astaxanthin is a red pigment that belongs to the carotenoid family like β-carotene. And it’s found in seafood such as crustaceans: shrimp and crabs and fish: salmon and sea bream. Recently, astaxanthin has been reported to have antioxidant activity up to 100 times more potent than that of vitamin E against lipid peroxidation and about 40 times more potent than that of β-carotene on singlet oxygen quenching. Astaxanthin does not show any pro-oxidant activity and its main sight of action is on/in the cell membrane. Various important benefits to date have suggested for human health such as immunomodulation, anti-stress, anti-inflammation, LDL cholesterol oxidation suppression, enhanced skin health, improved semen quality, attenuating eye fatigue, sport performance and endurance, limiting exercised induced muscle damage, suppressing the development of life-style related diseases such as obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension. Nowadays, the research and demand for natural astaxanthin in human health application are explosively growing worldwide. Especially, the clinicians use the astaxanthin extracted from the microalgae, Haematotoccus pluvialis as an add-on supplementation for the patients who are unsatisfied with the current medications or who can’t receive any medications because of their serious symptom. For example, the treatment enhances their daily activity levels or QOL in heart failure or benign prostatic hypertrophy/lower urinary tract symptom patients Other studies and trials are under way on chronic diseases such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, diabetes and CVD. We may call astaxanthin “a medical food” in the near future.Keywords: astaxanthin, medical food, Haematococcus, add-on supplementation
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Micro algae Spirulina platensis, Haematococcus pluvialis and Botryococcus braunii are cultured commercially and their productions are established in different parts of the world. In the present investigation the antibacterial properties of different solvent extracts of these three micro algae were evaluated. The maximum phenolic contents (128, 131, 110 μg/mg) was recorded in chloroform extracts of S. platensis, H. pluvialis and ethyl acetate extract of B. braunii. Hexane, chloroform, ethylacetate, acetone and methanol extracts of S. platensis, B. braunii and H. pluvialis were tested against important clinical bacterial isolates such as Bacillus subtilus, Bacillus cereus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Listeria monocytogenes, Micrococcus luteus, Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus fecalis and Yersinia enterocolitica. The antibacterial activity was determined by agar-well diffusion assay and minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). Chloroform and ethlyacetate extracts of S. platensis showed highest inhibition against B. subtilus (18.12 mm and MIC at 200 ppm), while chloroform extract of H. pluvialis recorded highest inhibition against B. subtilus (17.32 mm and MIC at 150 ppm). In B. braunii, ethlyacetate extract exhibited maximum inhibition against E. aerogenes (15.11 mm and MIC at 300 ppm). We conclude that, S. platensis, H. pluvialis and B. braunii extracts can be used as bacteriostatic agents for suitable applications.