The Protective Effect of Violaxanthin from Nannochloropsis oceanica against Ultraviolet B-Induced Damage in Normal Human Dermal Fibroblasts

Photochem Photobiol. 2019 Mar;95(2):595-604. doi: 10.1111/php.13030. Epub 2018 Nov 21.


Skin photoaging, which is mainly induced by ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, is prevented by the application of UV-protective agents. The microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica (N. oceanica) has been primarily reported as a potential biofuel; however, in this study, we investigated whether N. oceanica extracts exerted photoprotective effects against UVB-irradiated human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) and which single component was responsible for the protective effect of the extracts. Two extracts-pigment and nonpigment-were prepared from N. oceanica biomass. WST-1 assay and expression analysis of interleukin genes showed that the pigment extracts were not significantly cytotoxic to HDFs. Further experiments revealed that treatment with the pigment extract upregulated the expression of collagen genes and significantly blocked UVB-induced damage such as decreased cell viability and increased ROS production. Next, to investigate the pigment composition of the extracts, HPLC analysis was conducted and violaxanthin was identified as the major pigment. The UVB photoprotective effect of the pigment extracts was confirmed in violaxanthin-treated HDFs. In addition, violaxanthin significantly attenuated UVB-induced G1 phase arrest, senescence-associated β-galactosidase activation, p16 and p21 upregulation, ERK phosphorylation and the downregulation of ECM molecules in HDFs. Therefore, we concluded that violaxanthin was a potential antiphotoaging agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomass
  • Extracellular Matrix / drug effects
  • Extracellular Matrix / radiation effects
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Seaweed / chemistry*
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • Xanthophylls / pharmacology


  • Xanthophylls
  • violaxanthin