Astaxanthin (Asx) would be expected to prevent ultraviolet (UV)-induced skin damage, as it is regarded as a potent antioxidative carotenoid in biological membranes. However, it is difficult to administer Asx topically to skin because of its poor water solubility. In this study, we attempted to solve this problem by preparing liposomes containing Asx (Asx-lipo), which were dispersible in the water phase, and therefore, suitable for topical application to the skin. Asx-lipo was shown to have potent scavenging ability against chemiluminescence-dependent singlet oxygen production in the water phase. When Asx-lipo was applied to skin before UV exposure, UV-induced skin thickening was prevented. Interestingly, collagen reduction induced by UV exposure was also prevented by preadministration of Asx-lipo. In addition, topical administration of Asx-lipo containing cationic lipid inhibited melanin production in skin exposed to UV. Consequently, we succeeded in preventing UV-induced skin damage using a topical application of a liposomal formulation containing Asx.
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