Chronic inflammation appears to play a critical role in sickness behavior caused by diabetes mellitus. Astaxanthin has been used in treating diabetes mellitus and diabetic complications because of its neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory actions. However, whether astaxanthin can improve sickness behavior induced by diabetes and its potential mechanisms are still unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of astaxanthin on diabetes-elicited abnormal behavior in mice and its corresponding mechanisms. An experimental diabetic model was induced by streptozotocin (150 mg/kg) and astaxanthin (25 mg/kg/day) was provided orally for 10 weeks. Body weight and water consumption were measured, and the sickness behavior was evaluated by the open field test (OFT) and closed field test (CFT). The expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was measured, and the frontal cortical cleaved caspase-3 positive cells, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) expression levels were also investigated. Furthermore, cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) in the frontal cortex was detected to determine whether the protective effect of astaxanthin on sickness behavior in diabetic mice is closely related to CBS. As expected, we observed that astaxanthin improved general symptoms and significantly increase horizontal distance and the number of crossings in the OFT and CFT. Furthermore, data showed that astaxanthin could decrease GFAP-positive cells in the brain and down-regulate the cleaved caspase-3, IL-6, and IL-1β, and up-regulate CBS in the frontal cortex. These results suggest that astaxanthin provides neuroprotection against diabetes-induced sickness behavior through inhibiting inflammation, and the protective effects may involve CBS expression in the brain.
Keywords: Astaxanthin; Cystathionine β-synthase; Diabetes; Inflammation.