Astaxanthin was encapsulated in nanoliposomes by a film dispersion-ultrasonic technique using soybean phosphatidyl choline. The astaxanthin-loaded nanoliposomes displayed advantages in the aspects of high encapsulation efficiency and less particle size with a remarkably homodisperse size distribution. Based on X-ray diffraction and differential scanning calorimetry the analysis, it has been demonstrated that there could be interactions of astaxanthin with the lipid bilayer, resulting in the forming of astaxanthin-loaded nanoliposomes. The thermal gravimetric analysis revealed that the thermal stability of astaxanthin after encapsulation in nanoliposomes was remarkably enhanced as compared to astaxanthin alone. Furthermore, encapsulation could greatly enhance the water dispersibility of astaxanthin. This study also confirmed that encapsulation of astaxanthin in nanoliposomes could be an effective way to supply astaxanthin continuously in the body. The effects of astaxanthin incorporation on structural changes of the liposomal membrane were investigated through steady-state fluorescence measurements. This study revealed that the incorporation of astaxanthin into the lipid bilayer decreased membrane fluidity, but increased micropolarity in the membrane within a certain range of astaxanthin concentrations. Additionally, it indicated that the encapsulation of astaxanthin in the lipid bilayer could be applied to modulate the structural properties of membranes.
Keywords: astaxanthin; characterization; in vitro release; nanoliposomes; structure.