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LE Magazine January 2009


Effects of astaxanthin on human blood rheology.

Effects of astaxanthin (AX) derived from H. pluvialis on human blood rheology were investigated in 20 adult men with a single-blind method. The experimental group was 57.5 +/- 9.8 years of age and the placebo group was 50.8 +/- 13.1 years of age. A blood rheology test that measures whole blood transit time was conducted using heparinized blood of the volunteers by a MC-FAN apparatus (microchannel array flow analyzer). After administration of AX 6 mg/day for 10 days, the values of the experimental group were decreased from 52.8 +/- 4.9 s to 47.6 +/- 4.2 s (p<0.01) and a comparison of the values between the experimental (47.6 +/- 4.2 s) and the placebo (54.2 +/- 6.7 s) groups showed a significant difference (p<0.05). There were no adverse effects resulting from the administration of AX 6 mg/day for 10 days. Informed consent was obtained from each subject.

J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008 Sep;43(2):69-74

Astaxanthin, a carotenoid with potential in human health and nutrition.

Astaxanthin (1), a red-orange carotenoid pigment, is a powerful biological antioxidant that occurs naturally in a wide variety of living organisms. The potent antioxidant property of 1 has been implicated in its various biological activities demonstrated in both experimental animals and clinical studies. Compound 1 has considerable potential and promising applications in human health and nutrition. In this review, the recent scientific literature (from 2002 to 2005) is covered on the most significant activities of 1, including its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, its effects on cancer, diabetes, the immune system, and ocular health, and other related aspects. We also discuss the green microalga Haematococcus pluvialis, the richest source of natural 1, and its utilization in the promotion of human health, including the antihypertensive and neuroprotective potentials of 1, emphasizing our experimental data on the effects of dietary astaxanthin on blood pressure, stroke, and vascular dementia in animal models, is described.

J Nat Prod. 2006 Mar;69(3):443-9

Astaxanthin: a novel potential treatment for oxidative stress and inflammation in cardiovascular disease.

Oxidative stress and inflammation are implicated in several different manifestations of cardiovascular disease (CVD). They are generated, in part, from the overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) that activate transcriptional messengers, such as nuclear factor-kappaB, 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 well-known agents, such as vitamin E and beta-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.

Am J Cardiol. 2008 May 22;101(10A):58D-68D

Inhibition of choroidal neovascularization with an anti-inflammatory carotenoid astaxanthin.

PURPOSE: 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. METHODS: 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. RESULTS: 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. CONCLUSIONS: 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.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Apr;49(4):1679-85

Suppressive effects of astaxanthin against rat endotoxin-induced uveitis by inhibiting the NF-kappaB signaling pathway.

We investigated the effects of astaxanthin (AST), a carotenoid, on endotoxin-induced 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 NF-kappaB 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-kappaB-dependent signaling pathway.

Exp Eye Res. 2006 Feb;82(2):275-81

Effects of astaxanthin on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in vitro and in vivo.

PURPOSE: 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 anti-Helicobacter 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. METHODS: 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. RESULTS: 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. CONCLUSIONS: 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.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2003 Jun;44(6):2694-701

Antihypertensive potential and mechanism of action of astaxanthin: II. Vascular reactivity and hemorheology in spontaneously hypertensive rats.

The current study was designed to determine the effects of a dietary astaxanthin (ASX-O) on vascular reactivity in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), in order to verify its antihypertensive action mechanism. We evaluated contractions induced by phenylephrine (Phe), angiotensin II (Ang II) and the xanthine/xanthine oxidase (Xan/XOD) system, and relaxations induced by sodium nitroprusside (SNP) as well as endothelium-dependent relaxations mediated by acetylcholine (ACh) in thoracic aorta of the SHR, with and without ASX-O intervention. We also investigated the effects of ASX-O on blood rheology using a microchannel array system. In this study, ASX-O showed a significant modulatory effect on nitric oxide (NO)-induced vasorelaxation by the NO-donor SNP (p<0.05). However, it did not show significant effects in restoring the impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation to ACh in the SHR. On the other hand, the constrictive effects by Phe, Ang II and Xan/XOD were ameliorated by ASX-O (p<0.05). ASX-O also demonstrated significant hemorheological effect by decreasing the microchannel transit time of whole blood. In conclusion, the results suggest that ASX-O may act in modulating the blood fluidity in hypertension, and that the antihypertensive effects of ASX-O may be exerted through mechanisms including normalization of the sensitivity of the adrenoceptor sympathetic pathway, particularly [alpha]-adrenoceptors, and by restoration of the vascular tone through attenuation of the Ang II- and reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced vasoconstriction.

Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 Jun;28(6):967-71

Antihypertensive potential and mechanism of action of astaxanthin: III. Antioxidant and histopathological effects in spontaneously hypertensive rats.

We investigated the effects of a dietary astaxanthin (ASX-O) on oxidative parameters in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), by determination of the level of nitric oxide (NO) end products nitrite/nitrate (NO2-/NO3-) and lipid peroxidation in ASX-O-treated SHR. Oral administration of the ASX-O significantly reduced the plasma level of NO2-/NO3- compared to the control vehicle (p<0.05). The lipid peroxidation level, however, was reduced in both ASX-O- and olive oil-treated groups. We also analyzed the post-treatment effects of ASX-O on the vascular tissues by examining the changes in the aorta and coronary arteries and arterioles. The dietary ASX-O showed significant reduction in the elastin bands in the rat aorta (p<0.05). It also significantly decreased the [wall : lumen] aerial ratio of the coronary arteries. These results suggest that ASX-O can modulate the oxidative condition and may improve vascular elastin and arterial wall thickness in hypertension.

Biol Pharm Bull. 2006 Apr;29(4):684-8

Antihypertensive and neuroprotective effects of astaxanthin in experimental animals.

Astaxanthin is a natural antioxidant carotenoid that occurs in a wide variety of living organisms. We investigated, for the first time, antihypertensive effects of astaxanthin (ASX-O) in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Oral administration of ASX-O for 14 d induced a significant reduction in the arterial blood pressure (BP) in SHR but not in normotensive Wistar Kyoto (WKY) strain. The long-term administration of ASX-O (50 mg/kg) for 5 weeks in stroke prone SHR (SHR-SP) induced a significant reduction in the BP. It also delayed the incidence of stroke in the SHR-SP. To investigate the action mechanism of ASX-O, the effects on PGF(2alpha)-induced contractions of rat aorta treated with NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) were studied in vitro. ASX-O (1 to 10 microM) induced vasorelaxation mediated by nitric oxide (NO). The results suggest that the antihypertensive effect of ASX-O may be due to a NO-related mechanism. ASX-O also showed significant neuroprotective effects in ischemic mice, presumably due to its antioxidant potential. Pretreatment of the mice with ASX-O significantly shortened the latency of escaping onto the platform in the Morris water maze learning performance test. In conclusion, these results indicate that astaxanthin can exert beneficial effects in protection against hypertension and stroke and in improving memory in vascular dementia.

Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 Jan;28(1):47-52

Astaxanthin limits exercise-induced skeletal and cardiac muscle damage in mice.

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.

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2003 Feb;5(1):139-44

Effects of astaxanthin supplementation on exercise-induced fatigue in mice.

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.

Biol Pharm Bull. 2006 Oct;29(10):2106-10

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