Ultraviolet (UV) light induces skin photoaging, which is characterized by thickening, wrinkling, pigmentation, and dryness. Astaxanthin (AST), a ketocarotenoid isolated from Haematococcus pluvialis, has been extensively studied owing to its possible effects on skin health as well as UV protection. In addition, AST attenuates the increased generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and capillary regression of the skeletal muscle. In this study, we investigated whether AST could protect against UV-induced photoaging and reduce capillary regression in the skin of HR-1 hairless mice. UV light induces wrinkle formation, epidermal thickening, and capillary regression in the dermis of HR-1 hairless mice. The administration of AST reduced the UV-induced wrinkle formation and skin thickening, and increased collagen fibers in the skin. AST supplementation also inhibited the generation of ROS, decreased wrinkle formation, reduced epidermal thickening, and increased the density of capillaries in the skin. We also found an inverse correlation between wrinkle formation and the density of capillaries. An association between photoaging and capillary regression in the skin was also observed. These results suggest that AST can protect against photoaging caused by UV irradiation and the inhibitory effects of AST on photoaging may be associated with the reduction of capillary regression in the skin.
Keywords: antioxidant; astaxanthin; capillary; photoaging; skin; ultraviolet.