Neuroprotective mechanisms of astaxanthin: a potential therapeutic role in preserving cognitive function in age and neurodegeneration

Geroscience. 2017 Feb;39(1):19-32. doi: 10.1007/s11357-017-9958-x. Epub 2017 Feb 13.


Astaxanthin (AXT) is a carotenoid with multiple health benefits. It is currently marketed as a health supplement and is well known for its antioxidant capacity. Recent evidence has emerged to suggest a broad range of biological activities. The interest in this compound has increased dramatically over the last few years and many studies are now applying this molecule across many disease models. Results from the current research are beginning to come together to suggest neuroprotective properties including anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and antioxidant effects, as well as the potential to promote or maintain neural plasticity. These emergent mechanisms of actions implicate AXT as a promising therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative disease. This review will examine and extrapolate from the recent literature to build support for the use of AXT in mitigating neuropathy in normal aging and neurodegenerative disease.

Keywords: Aging; Astaxanthin; Microglial function; Neural plasticity; Neuroprotection.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects*
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / prevention & control
  • Neuroprotection / drug effects*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Xanthophylls / therapeutic use


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Xanthophylls
  • astaxanthine