The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of astaxanthin feed supplementation and environmental nitrite stress in postlarvae of Pleoticus muelleri (15 ± 0.004 mg initial weight) under culture conditions. Diets containing three levels of astaxanthin, 0 mg kg(-1) of diet (C0), 100 mg kg(-1) of diet (C(100)), and 300 mg kg(-1) of diet (C(300)), were used. Postlarvae fed with each diet were exposed to different concentrations of nitrite (NO(2)Na) (0-200 mg L(-1)). The 96 h median lethal concentration (LC50) values of nitrite N were 76.3, 89.7, and 157 mg L(-1) for shrimps fed to C0, C(100), and C(300). The scavenging properties were evaluated against the stable 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical by electron resonance spectroscopy (EPR). For all feed treatments, the extracts exhibited strong DPPH scavenging activity; however, shrimp fed with C(100) and C(300) showed the greatest activity to quench DPPH (62 and 59%, respectively) with respect to C0 (43%). It can be concluded that astaxanthin acts as a protector of nitrite stress in P. muelleri.
Keywords: Pleoticus muelleri; astaxanthin; histopathology; nitrite; scavenging capacity.