Ulcer preventive and antioxidative properties of astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis

Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Aug 20;590(1-3):387-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2008.06.042. Epub 2008 Jun 16.


The anti-ulcer properties of astaxanthin fractions such as total carotenoid and astaxanthin esters from Haematococcus pluvialis were evaluated in ethanol-induced gastric ulcers in rats. Since oxygen radical release is a pathogenic factor of ethanol-induced gastric damage, astaxanthin - a free radical scavenger, was investigated as a potential ulcer preventive agent. Astaxanthin fractions - total carotenoid and astaxanthin esters were orally administered to experimental rats at 100, 250 and 500 microg/kg b.w. prior to ulcer induction. Alcian blue binding assay indicates that, total carotenoid and astaxanthin esters at 500 microg/kg b.w could protect gastric mucin approximately 40% and 67% respectively. Pre-treatment with astaxanthin esters, also resulted in significant increase in antioxidant enzyme levels - catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase in stomach homogenate. Histopathological examination substantiated the protective effect of astaxanthin in pre-treated rats. The increased antioxidant potencies such as free radical scavenging activity with an IC(50) of approximately 8 microg/ml and reducing power abilities (59 x 10(3) U/g) in vitro, reveal that H. pluvialis astaxanthin may protect gastric mucosal injury by antioxidative mechanism. In addition, approximately 23 fold increased lipoxygenase-inhibitory property, in comparison with standard astaxanthin and significant H(+), K(+)-ATPase-inhibitory activity of astaxanthin esters, in comparison with known proton pump blocking anti-ulcer drug - omeprazole, may envisage the potential gastroprotective effect by regulating the gastric mucosal injury and gastric acid secretion by the gastric cell during ulcer disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Carotenoids / isolation & purification
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology
  • Chlorophyta / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipoxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Stomach Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Xanthophylls / isolation & purification
  • Xanthophylls / pharmacology


  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Lipoxygenase Inhibitors
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Xanthophylls
  • Carotenoids
  • astaxanthine