Carotenoid scavenging of radicals. Effect of carotenoid structure and oxygen partial pressure on antioxidative activity

Z Lebensm Unters Forsch. 1993 May;196(5):423-9. doi: 10.1007/BF01190806.


Carotenoid scavenging of free radicals has been investigated in peroxidizing methyl esters of unsaturated fatty acids using (i) metmyoglobin as a water-based free-radical initiator in a heterogeneous lipid/water system, and (ii) azo-bis-isobutyronitrile as a free-radical initiator in a homogeneous chloroform solution. For the heterogeneous system, using a combination of electrochemical oxygen depletion measurements, spectrophotometric determination of lipid hydroperoxides and carotenoid degradation, it was demonstrated that each of the four carotenoids astaxanthin, beta-carotene, canthaxanthin, and zeaxanthin protects the methyl esters against oxidation. The antioxidative effect increases with increasing carotenoid concentration, increases with decreasing oxygen partial pressure (0.010 < pO2 < 0.50 atm), and shows little dependence on the structure of the carotenoid. For a homogeneous solution, the effect of the structure of the carotenoid was further investigated, and it was shown that the stability of the four carotenoids in the oxidizing system are different, with the order of decreasing stability being: astaxanthin > canthaxanthin > beta-carotene > zeaxanthin. Each of the four carotenoids can suppress lipid oxidation and the degree of suppression of peroxidation of methyl linoleate corresponds to the difference in stability.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Canthaxanthin / chemistry
  • Canthaxanthin / metabolism
  • Carotenoids / analogs & derivatives
  • Carotenoids / chemistry
  • Carotenoids / metabolism*
  • Free Radical Scavengers*
  • Kinetics
  • Linoleic Acids / metabolism
  • Linolenic Acids / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Metmyoglobin / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Nitriles / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene


  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Linoleic Acids
  • Linolenic Acids
  • Nitriles
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • methyl linolenate
  • Metmyoglobin
  • methyl linoleate
  • Carotenoids
  • Canthaxanthin
  • astaxanthine
  • azobis(isobutyronitrile)
  • Oxygen