Astaxanthin protects neuronal cells against oxidative damage and is a potent candidate for brain food

Forum Nutr. 2009:61:129-135. doi: 10.1159/000212745. Epub 2009 Apr 7.


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-OHDA-treated 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 stress-associated neurodegeneration and a potential candidate for natural brain food.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic / methods
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxides / administration & dosage
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / chemistry
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neurotoxins / administration & dosage
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Oxidopamine / administration & dosage
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / administration & dosage
  • Xanthophylls / chemistry
  • Xanthophylls / pharmacology


  • Adrenergic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Neurotoxins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Xanthophylls
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • docosahexaenoic acid hydroperoxide
  • Oxidopamine
  • astaxanthine