Effects of astaxanthin on the protection of muscle health (Review)

Exp Ther Med. 2020 Oct;20(4):2941-2952. doi: 10.3892/etm.2020.9075. Epub 2020 Jul 29.


Sarcopenia refers to the involuntary and generalized deterioration of skeletal muscle mass and strength, which may lead to falls, frailty, physical disability, loss of independence, morbidity and mortality. The majority of molecular and cellular changes involved in the degeneration of muscle tissues are mediated by oxidative stress. Therefore, astaxanthin may act as a potential adjunct therapy for sarcopenia owing to its antioxidant activity. The present review examines the effects of astaxanthin on the promotion of skeletal muscle performance and prevention of muscle atrophy and the potential mechanisms underlying these effects. The available evidence till date was retrieved from PubMed and Medline electronic databases. The present review reported the beneficial effects of astaxanthin in preventing muscle degeneration in various animal models of sarcopenia. In humans, the effects of astaxanthin in combination with other antioxidants on muscle health are mixed, wherein positive and negligible effects were reported. Mechanistic studies revealed that astaxanthin promotes muscle health by reducing oxidative stress, myoblast apoptosis and proteolytic pathways while promoting mitochondria regeneration and formation of blood vessels. Thus, astaxanthin is a potential therapeutic agent for sarcopenia but its effects in humans require further validation.

Keywords: astaxanthin; mitochondria; muscle atrophy; oxidative stress; sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Review