Inhibition of oxidative injury of biological membranes by astaxanthin

Physiol Chem Phys Med NMR. 1990;22(1):27-38.


The value of astaxanthin, a carotenoid pigment, in the treatment of oxidative injury is assessed. Astaxanthin protects the mitochondria of vitamin E-deficient rats from damage by Fe2(+)-catalyzed lipid peroxidation both in vivo and in vitro. The inhibitory effect of astaxanthin on mitochondrial lipid peroxidation is stronger than that of alpha-tocopherol. Thin layer chromatographic analysis shows that the change in phospholipid components of erythrocytes from vitamin E-deficient rats induced by Fe2+ and Fe3(+)-xanthine/xanthine oxidase system was significantly suppressed by astaxanthin. Carrageenan-induced inflammation of the paw is also significantly inhibited by administration of astaxanthin. These data indicate that astaxanthin functions as a potent antioxidant both in vivo and in vitro.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / drug effects
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism
  • Iron / pharmacology*
  • Kinetics
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects
  • Mitochondria, Liver / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reference Values
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / metabolism*
  • Xanthophylls
  • beta Carotene* / analogs & derivatives*


  • Xanthophylls
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • astaxanthine
  • Iron