Astaxanthin: A super antioxidant from microalgae and its therapeutic potential

J Basic Microbiol. 2022 Sep;62(9):1064-1082. doi: 10.1002/jobm.202100391. Epub 2021 Nov 24.


Astaxanthin is a ketocarotenoid, super antioxidant molecule. It has higher antioxidant activity than a range of carotenoids, thus has applications in cosmetics, aquaculture, nutraceuticals, therapeutics, and pharmaceuticals. Naturally, it is derived from Haematococcus pluvialis via a one-stage process or two-stage process. Natural astaxanthin significantly reduces oxidative and free-radical stress as compared to synthetic astaxanthin. The present review summarizes all the aspects of astaxanthin, including its structure, chemistry, bioavailability, and current production technology. Also, this paper gives a detailed mechanism for the potential role of astaxanthin as nutraceuticals for cardiovascular disease prevention, skin protection, antidiabetic and anticancer, cosmetic ingredient, natural food colorant, and feed supplement in poultry and aquaculture. Astaxanthin is one of the high-valued microalgae products of the future. However, due to some risks involved or not having adequate research in terms of long-term consumption, it is still yet to be explored by food industries. Although the cost of naturally derived astaxanthin is high, it accounts for only a 1% share in total astaxanthin available in the global market. Therefore, scientists are looking for ways to cut down the cost of natural astaxanthin to be made available to consumers.

Keywords: biological activities; biorefining process; cultivation system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Carotenoids
  • Microalgae*
  • Xanthophylls / therapeutic use


  • Antioxidants
  • Xanthophylls
  • Carotenoids
  • astaxanthine