Astaxanthin and its Effects in Inflammatory Responses and Inflammation-Associated Diseases: Recent Advances and Future Directions

Molecules. 2020 Nov 16;25(22):5342. doi: 10.3390/molecules25225342.


Astaxanthin is a natural lipid-soluble and red-orange carotenoid. Due to its strong antioxidant property, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and immune modulation, astaxanthin has gained growing interest as a multi-target pharmacological agent against various diseases. In the current review, the anti-inflammation mechanisms of astaxanthin involved in targeting for inflammatory biomarkers and multiple signaling pathways, including PI3K/AKT, Nrf2, NF-κB, ERK1/2, JNK, p38 MAPK, and JAK-2/STAT-3, have been described. Furthermore, the applications of anti-inflammatory effects of astaxanthin in neurological diseases, diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, hepatic and renal diseases, eye and skin disorders, are highlighted. In addition to the protective effects of astaxanthin in various chronic and acute diseases, we also summarize recent advances for the inconsistent roles of astaxanthin in infectious diseases, and give our view that the exact function of astaxanthin in response to different pathogen infection and the potential protective effects of astaxanthin in viral infectious diseases should be important research directions in the future.

Keywords: anti-inflammatory; astaxanthin; inflammation-associated diseases; oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Disease*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Xanthophylls / chemistry
  • Xanthophylls / pharmacology
  • Xanthophylls / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Xanthophylls
  • astaxanthine