Reviewed on October 21, 2011. Send your comment to    
Astaxanthin Benefits
When the conjugated keto-carotenoids, astaxanthin was added to rat liver microsomes undergoing radical-initiated
lipid peroxidation under air, astaxanthin is as effective as alpha-tocopherol in inhibiting the process. While,
beta-carotene was a much less potent antioxidant when added in this system. [2] In another study, the inhibitory
effects of beta-carotene and astaxanthin on photosensitized oxidation of phospholipid bilayers were compared.
Large unilamellar liposomes comprising of egg yolk phosphatidylcholine was exposed to photoirradiation in the
presence of photosensitizers.  Without sensitizers, astaxanthin decreased the process much slower than
beta-carotene, lycopene, and alpha-carotene. [4] Another early study showed that astaxanthin (10 nM) was able to
protect against UV-induced oxidative stress in rat kidney fibroblasts. [7] With such strong anti-oxidative effects, one
may expect that astaxanthin carries many benefits. This article reviews the recent findings about astaxanthin's
potential benefits.

Astaxanthin may benefit user's immune system, enhencing antibody production. Astaxanthin enhanced in vitro
antibody production to sheep red blood cells in normal B6 mice. [3] When the actions of carotenoids were tested in
normal strains of mice, astaxanthin enhanced in vitro antibody production to T cell-dependent antigen. And,
astaxanthin exerted maximum enhancing actions when it was present at the initial period of antigen priming. [3]

Astaxanthin may benefit users at risk of certain liver issues. Astaxanthin was found to protect liver from damage in
presence of CCl4, via inhibition of lipid peroxidation and stimulation of the cellular antioxidant system. In the study,
astaxanthin subsided the increased glutamate-oxalacetate transaminase (GOT) and glutamate-pyruvate
transaminase (GTP) activities in response to carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), while causing an increase in glutathione
(GSH) levels and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities in the CCl4-treated rat liver. [9]

Astaxanthin may have benefits on diabetic patients. Oxidative stress induced by hyperglycemia possibly causes the
dysfunction of pancreatic beta-cells and various forms of tissue damage in patients with diabetes mellitus.
Researchers have examined whether astaxanthin can elicit beneficial effects on the progressive destruction of
pancreatic beta-cells in db/db mice--a well-known obese model of type 2 diabetes. They used diabetic
C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice and db/m as a control. Astaxanthin treatment was started at 6 weeks of age and its effects
were evaluated at 10, 14, and 18 weeks of age by non-fasting blood glucose levels. Result: The non-fasting blood
glucose level in db/db mice was significantly higher than that of db/m mice, and the higher level of blood glucose in
db/db mice decreased after treatment with astaxanthin. [10] Astaxanthin was also found to have a protective effect
on endothelial dysfunction of aortas in diabetic rats and the possible molecular mechanism involved. [Zhao ZW et
al;. Arzneimittelforschung. 2011;61(4):239-46]

Astaxanthin may have protective benefits on heart. A study of mice has shown that astaxanthin attenuated
exercise-induced damage in mouse skeletal muscle and heart, including an associated neutrophil infiltration that
induces further damage. In the study, the researchers required the mice to perform vigorous exercise and they
found the protection of astaxanthin on the cardiac muscle. [11]

A study has demonstrated that astaxanthin significantly prolonged the LDL oxidation lag time (31.5, 45.4, 65.0 min)
compared with the control (19.9 min) in a dose-proportionality manner. In the same study, the researchers dosed 24
volunteers with astaxanthin at doses of 1.8, 3.6,14.4 and 21.6 mg per day for 14 days. They also found the a longer
LDL oxidation lag time. [12]

A double blind, randomized trial of 30 men suffered from infertility showed that astaxanthin increased the sperm
linear velocity and decreased reactive oxygen species and Inhibin B. [13] Thus, astaxanthin may benefit users at
risk of certain types of infertiltiy.

Astaxanthin showed potential benefits against various cancer cells in animal studies or test-tube studies. Clinical
studies are needed to support its beneficial claims on its potential application on chemotherapy. Here are just a few

Bladder cancer
In a study, mice were given 250 p.p.m. OH-BBN in drinking water for 20 weeks then, water containing astaxanthin.
Researches found astaxanthin administration after OH-BBN exposure significantly reduced the incidence of bladder
cancer (transitional cell carcinoma). Treatment with astaxanthin also decreased the number/nucleus of silver-stained
nucleolar organizer region proteins, an index of cell proliferation. Astaxanthin may suppress cell proliferation. [5]

Colon Cancer
In one experiment, the effects of astaxanthin on colitis-associated colon carcinogenesis induced by azoxymethane in
mice was studied. Researchers found that dietary astaxanthin significantly inhibited the occurrence of colonic
mucosal ulcers, dysplastic crypts, and colonic adenocarcinoma at week 20. [Yasui Y et al, Chem Biol Interact. 2011
Aug 15;193(1):79-87.]

Oral carcinogenesis
In another study, researchers induced oral carcinogenesis in male F344 rats with 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide (4-NQO).
Then, they fed the animals with 100 ppm astaxanthin during the initiation or post-initiation phase of 4-NQO-induced
oral carcinogenesis. They found the incidences of preneoplastic lesions and neoplasms in the oral cavity of rats fed
with astaxanthin were significantly smaller than those without astaxanthin treatment. In particular, no oral neoplasms
developed in rats fed with astaxanthin during the 4-NQO exposure. [6]

Mammary tumor cells
One early study demonstrated the anticancer activities of astaxanthin against the growth of mammary tumors were
studied in female eight-wk-old BALB/c mice. Researchers fed the mice with a synthetic diet containing 0, 0.1 or 0.4%
astaxanthin. After 3 weeks, they inoculated all mice with 1 x 10(6) WAZ-2T tumor cells into the mammary fat pad.
They killed all animals on 45 d after inoculation with the tumor cells and they found that astaxanthin decreased
mammary tumor volume in a dose-dependent fashion. [8]

Prostate cancer cells
Astaxanthin also demonstrated 98% inhibition of 5alpha-reductase at 300 microg/mL in vitro. Inhibition of
5alpha-reductase has been reported to decrease the symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and possibly
inhibit or help treat prostate cancer. [14]

Liver cancer cells
Astaxanthin showed anticancer effect in rat hepatocellular carcinoma CBRH-7919 cells by inducing cell apoptosis
through the regulation of mitochondrial-dependent manner. [Song XD, et al, Biol Pharm Bull. 2011;34(6):839-44].

Astaxanthin may benefit users from ulcer. Researchers isolated astaxanthin from Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous.
And then, they supplemented rats suffered from naproxen-induced gastric antral ulceration with astaxanthin. The
oral administration of astaxanthin (1, 5, and 25 mg/kg of body weight) showed a significant protection against
naproxen (80 mg/kg of body weight)-induced gastric antral ulcer and inhibited elevation of the lipid peroxide level in
gastric mucosa. They also found that pretreatment of astaxanthin resulted in a significant increase in the activities of
radical scavenging enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase. The acute gastric
mucosal lesion induced by naproxen nearly disappeared after the pretreatment of astaxanthin. [15]

Astaxanthin may benefit users at risk of hypertension. A study of spontaneously hypertensive rats has shown the
antihypertensive effects of astaxanthin. Oral administration of astaxanthin for 14 days induced a significant
reduction in the arterial blood pressure. The long-term administration of astaxanthin (50 mg/kg) for 5 weeks in
stroke prone rats induced a significant reduction in the blood pressure. [16]
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Astaxanthin Review
Astaxanthin, a naturally occurring carotenoid pigment, is a powerful biological antioxidant. Astaxanthin exhibits strong
free radical scavenging activity and protects against lipid peroxidation and oxidative damage of LDL-cholesterol, cell
membranes, cells, and tissues. Consequently, astaxanthin has important applications in the Nutraceuticals, Cosmetics,
Food and Feed industries.

For last 2 decades. more than 300 articles and patents have been published regarding astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a
small Lipid soluble molecule that can cross the blood brain and retina barriers easily. Because of its antioxidant
activities and blood brain/retina permeability, astaxanthin was found to have benefits on various health conditions
including inflammation, diabetics, certain cardiovascular, vision and CNS conditions.

Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring molecule and the most abundant carotenoid in the marine world. Astaxanthin can be
found in many of seafood such as salmon, trout, seabream and shrimps. Astaxanthin cannot be synthesized by animals
and must be provided in the diet. The main or richest commercial source for natural astaxanthin is Haematococcus
pluvialis microalgae. Most manufacturers have the advanced biotechnology process to cultivate large amount of
enriched algae cells without the disadvantages of open pond algae systems such as problems associated with
contaminations and salinity. In addition, the Haematococcus microalgae is cultivated in ideal environmental conditions
using the natural sun light as the energy source all year round.

Review / Benefits / Side Effects / Dosage / Cancer / Reference