Tag Archives: Astaxanthin

The Effects of Astaxanthin – Type 2 Diabetes

The Effects of Astaxanthin – Type 2 Diabetes


Draining the World Wealth

Diabetes mellitus is a worldwide epidemic that is critically linked to prevalence of obesity. More than 220 million people have diabetes and by the year 2030 the figures are expected to grow to 360 million. The diabetes is aggressively growing in both emerging and developed country. According to WHO, the Asian continent has over 90 million people suffering from diabetes – India (40 million) China (29 million); Indonesia (13 million) and Japan (7 million). The prevalence of diabetic patients remains pervasive in USA (22 million), Brazil (6 million), Pakistan (8 million); Russia (6 million); Italy (5 million) and Turkey (4 million). Even in the African region over 10 million people suffer from diabetes, especially in Nigeria where it is expected to reach 5 million within the year 2030.
Diabetic complications lead to heart disease (approximately 65% of death amongst diabetics), blindness, kidney failure and amputations. As a result, the indirect and direct medical expenditure of diabetics represent almost 5 times that of a non-diabetic.

Type 2 Diabetes: A Preventable Disease

High Blood Sugar 

In most cases, diabetes is treated with medication, although about 20% of diabetics may be managed by lifestyle changes. This means that even if we cannot change the genetic influences, fortunately, for most of us diabetes is preventable; for example, making dietary changes, taking nutritional supplements and exercising. To highlight this, people in high risk groups who achieve a 5-7% cut in body weight will reduce risk of developing diabetes approximately 58% across all age and ethnic groups.
While the debate between the contributory effects of carbohydrate and fat intake continues unabated, research reveals a strong link between foods with high glycemic index and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Excess blood glucose needs to be converted by insulin (produced by the pancreas ß-cells) into glycogen stores, however, when glycogen stores are full, glucose is converted into fat. Over time, the body’s cells may eventually become desensitized to insulin making it necessary to produce more insulin to achieve the same affect. It is this process that would eventually lead to a state known as hyperinsulinaemic state. As a result, the body looses its ability to control high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) that could result in toxic conditions and promote further complications such as kidney failure.

New Evidences Emerging from Human Studies

In an anti-aging study conducted by Iwabayashi et al., (2009), 20 female volunteers with increased oxidative stress burden ingested 12 mg/day of astaxanthin for 8 weeks. Results evidenced a significant decrease of diabetes-related parameters that collectively predict trends in diabetes development. Firstly, astaxanthin reduced cortisol by 23 percent.

Astaxanthin Retards Glucose Toxicity and Kidney Damage

Astaxanthin displayed positive effects in a type 2 diabetic mouse model in that it reduced the disease progression by retarding glucose toxicity and kidney damage. This has profound implications for people who belong to high risk groups, display pre-diabetic conditions (impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance) or want to manage advanced diabetic kidney problems (nephropathy).
Studies suggested that reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by hyperglycemia contributes to the onset of Diabetes mellitus and its complications. Non-enzymatic glycosylation of proteins and mitochondria, prevalent in diabetic conditions, is a major source of ROS. For example, pancreatic ß-cells kept in high glucose concentrations show presence of advanced glycosylation products, a source of ROS, which cause the following: i) reduction of insulin expression and ii) induction of cell death (apoptosis). ß–cells are especially vulnerable to ROS because these cells are inherently low in antioxidant status and therefore, requires long term protection. A recent study demonstrated that antioxidants (N-acetyl-L-cysteine, vitamins C and E) exerted beneficial effects in diabetic conditions such as preservation of ß-cell function, so it is likely that a more potent antioxidant such as astaxanthin can do the same or better.
In another study conducted by Preuss et al. (2009), 12 rats fed with 25mg/kg of astaxanthin show a significant decrease in insulin resistance by 13.5%.

Modulation of Glucose Toxicity

Uchiyama et al., 2002 demonstrated in obese diabetes type 2 mouse model that astaxanthin preserved pancreatic ß -cell dysfunction against oxidative damage. Treated mice received 1 mg astaxanthin/day at 6 weeks of age and then tests performed at 6, 12 and 18 weeks. Observations of astaxanthin treated mice (N=8) included: i) significantly reduced fasting glucose sugar levels at 12.

Figure 1. Astaxanthin improved the glucose levels in the Intraperitoneally Glucose Tolerance Test (IPGT) in diabetic mouse model (Uchiyama et al., 2002) Figure 1. Astaxanthin improved the glucose levels in the Intraperitoneally Glucose Tolerance Test (IPGT) in diabetic mouse model (Uchiyama <em>et al.</em>, 2002)
Figure 2. Astaxanthin preserved insulin sensitivity in the diabetic mouse model (Uchiyama et al., 2002) Figure 2. Astaxanthin preserved insulin sensitivity in the diabetic mouse model (Uchiyama <em>et al.</em>, 2002)
Figure 3. Astaxanthin protected kidney function measured by urinary albumin protein loss (Naito et al., 2004) 
 Figure 3. Astaxanthin protected kidney function measured by urinary albumin protein loss (Naito <em>et al.</em>, 2004)

Prevention of Diabetic Nephropathy

As well as substantiating observations by Uchiyama et al., Naito demonstrated that astaxanthin treated type 2 diabetic mice which normally shows renal insufficiency at 16 weeks of age in fact exhibited 67% less urinary albumin loss.

Figure 4. Astaxanthin reduced the amount of DNA damage indicated by urinary 8-OHdG levels (Naito et al., 2004) 
 Figure 4. Astaxanthin reduced the amount of DNA damage indicated by urinary 8-OHdG levels (Naito <em>et al.</em>, 2004)
Figure 5. Astaxanthin preserved the relative mesangial area.

 Figure 5. Astaxanthin preserved the relative mesangial area. +p<0.05 vs positive control (Naito <em>et al.</em>, 2004)
Earlier it was unclear how astaxanthin could ameliorate the progression of diabetic nephropathy, but new evidence revealed additional information in the mechanism of action. Naito et al., (2006) examined changes in the gene expression profile of glomerular cells in diabetic mouse model during the early phase of diabetic nephropathy. The mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation pathway was most significantly affected by high-glucose concentration (mediated via reactive oxygen species). Long term treatment with astaxanthin significantly modulated genes associated with oxidative phosphorylation, oxidative stress and the TGF-ß-collagen synthesis system.

Manabe et al., 2007 went further and analyzed normal human mesangial cells (NHMC) exposed to high glucose concentrations. In the presence of astaxanthin, it significantly suppressed ROS production (Figure 6) and inhibited nuclear translocation and activation of NF-ĸB (Figure 7) in the mitochondria of NHMC. Furthermore, this was the first time to detect astaxanthin in the mitochondrial membrane (Table 1) and its presence also suppressed ROS attack on membrane proteins.

Figure 6. Astaxanthin reduced ROS production in NHMC-mitochondria exposed to high glucose (Manabe et al., 2007) 
 Figure 6. Astaxanthin reduced ROS production in NHMC-mitochondria exposed to high glucose (Manabe <em>et al.</em>, 2007)  
Top left panel: mitochondria as green fluorescence, Top right panel: ROS as red fluorescence; Bottom right panel: Merged picture as yellow fluorescence.
Figure 7. Astaxanthin suppressed high-glucose induced nuclear translocation and activation of NF-ĸB (Manabe et al., 2007) 
 Figure 7. Astaxanthin suppressed high-glucose induced nuclear translocation and activation of NF-ĸB (Manabe <em>et al.</em>, 2007)
Table 1. Astaxanthin content in NHMC mitochondria expressed as percentage of total astaxanthin added. 
Mean of 3 samples. (Manabe et al., 2007) Table 1. Astaxanthin content in NHMC mitochondria expressed as percentage of total astaxanthin added. Mean of 3 samples. (Manabe <em>et al.</em>, 2007)


Although clinical trials involving antioxidants in humans have only recently begun, these preliminary results concluded that strong antioxidant supplementation may improve type 2 diabetic control and inhibit progressive renal damage by circumventing the effects of glycation-mediated ROS under hyperglycemic conditions. Astaxanthin improved pancreas function, insulin sensitivity, reduced kidney damage and glucose toxicity in diabetic mouse models. New techniques by gene chip analysis and fluorescence imaging revealed further details of mechanism and site of protection by astaxanthin. Further research and clinical studies are still required. However, it is reasonable to suggest that astaxanthin may be useful as part of a nutrigenomic strategy for type 2 diabetes and diabetic nephropathy.


  1. Forefront (Summer/Fall) 2005, American Diabetes Association.
  2. Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals June 2004. “The dietary solution to diabetes.”
  3. HSR Health Supplement Retailer July 2004. “Fighting Diabetes the natural way.”
  4. Iwabayashi M, Fujioka N, Nomoto K, Miyazaki R, Takahashi H, Hibino S, Takahashi Y, Nishikawa K, Nishida M, Yonei Y. (2009). Efficacy and safety of eight-week treatment with astaxanthin in individuals screened for increased oxidative stress burden. J. Anti Aging Med., 6 (4):15-21.
  5. Manabe E, Handa O, Naito Y, Mizushima K, Akagiri S, Adachi S, Takagi T, Kokura S, Maoka T, Yoshikawa T. (2008). Astaxanthin protects mesangial cells from hyperglycemia-induced oxidative signaling. J. Cellular Biochem. 103 (6):1925-37.
  6. Naito Y, Uchiyama K, Aoi W, Hasegawa G, Nakamura N, Yoshida N, Maoka T, Takahashi J, Yoshikawa T. (2004) Prevention of diabetic nephropathy by treatment with astaxanthin in diabetic db/db mice. BioFactors 20:49-59. Nutritional Outlook April. “Fighting Diabetes”
  7. Naito Y, Uchiyama K, Mizushima K, Kuroda M, Akagiri S, Takagi T, Handa O, Kokura S, Yoshida N, Ichikawa H, Takahashi J, Yoshikawa T. (2006). Microarray profiling of gene expression patterns in glomerular cells of astaxanthin-treated diabetic mice: a nutrigenomic approach. Int. J. Mol. Med.,18:685-695.
  8. Preuss H, Echard B, Bagchi D, Perricone VN, Yamashita E. (2009). Astaxanthin lowers blood pressure and lessens the activity of the renin-angiotensin system in Zucker Fatty Rats. J. Funct. Foods, I:13-22.
  9. The Global Diabetes Community. http://www.diabetes.co.uk. Article retrieved on June 8th, 2010.
  10. Uchiyama K, Naito Y, Hasegawa G, Nakamura N, Takahashi J, Yoshikawa T. (2002). Astaxanthin Protects β–cells against glucose toxicity in diabetic db/db mice. Redox Rep., 7(5):290-293.

CCRES special thanks to 

  Mr. Mitsunori Nishida, 

President of Corporate Fuji Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES) 

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The Effects of Astaxanthin – Skin Health

The Effects of Astaxanthin – Skin Health



Brighter Skin and Well-Being Goes Hand-in-Hand

Brighter Skin and Well-Being Goes Hand-in-Hand 

The multibillion dollar beauty industry continues to flourish, spurred by consumers’ desire to look and feel forever-young. Several categories exist within the beauty industry, but none more vibrant than the anti-aging segment which includes products to reduce or reverse visible signs of aging such as wrinkles, age spots, and freckles. While aging is natural and cannot be avoided, there are factors such as solar radiation and physical and mechanical damage that accelerate the propensity of visible aging. Today, humans face increasing exposure to chemical pollution, ultraviolet radiation and ozone levels, all of which can damage the skin’s dermal layer causing wrinkles and enhancing the risk of malignant skin cancer. These negative effects are compounded with increasingly poor diets and lifestyle habits which are not conducive to maintaining the skin’s natural repair process and antioxidant network. Clearly, there is opportunity for natural ingredients to help improve long term skin health management through topical application and nutritional supplementation.
In the past, Beta-carotene (provitamin A) and Vitamin E have been extensively studied. Recent focus, however, has switched to other carotenoids such as astaxanthin, (derived from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis), which is shown to have potent quenching and anti-lipid-peroxidation properties; a weakness of Beta-carotene and Vitamin E (Miki, 1991). In human trials, astaxanthin has been shown to reduce visible signs of UV-aging through both topical and dietary supplementation within 4 to 6 weeks of use. This data is supported by a number of in-vitro and animal studies. Research suggests potential skin benefits from the use of astaxanthin to maintain a youthful appearance, reverse premature signs of aging and prevent UV induced skin cancer. Naturally, further investigation is necessary to elucidate the mechanism of action and to replicate results using significantly larger clinical trials. To date, the astaxanthin potential is promising.

Table 1. Astaxanthin maintains skin health by several methods Table 1. Astaxanthin maintains skin health by several methods

Protecting the Skin’s Natural Antioxidant Network and DNA

Protecting the Skin's Natural Antioxidant Network and DNA 

Oxygen radicals formed from UV radiation attack skin cells in a variety of ways. As demonstrated by O’Connor & O’Brien (1998), UVA light is capable of producing oxidative stress in living cells in-vitro. By monitoring catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), Astaxanthin is capable of reducing oxidative stress, (2002) demonstrate that UVA irradiated skin cells pretreated with astaxanthin (10 μM) suffered significantly less DNA damage. Furthermore, astaxanthin protected the skin’s endogenous antioxidants SOD and glutathione (GSH) from oxygen radical attack. Topical restoration of the skin’s natural antioxidant balance is one method to maintaining healthy skin. UV radiation and air borne pollutants tend to strip away the nutrients essential to maintain the skin’s hydrolipidic barrier. As a result, the skin will become dry and unhealthy in appearance.

Topical Wrinkle Reduction

In a study using hairless mice, Arakane (2002) demonstrates astaxanthin’s ability to suppress the formation of UVB photoinduced wrinkles. UVB doses of 65-95 mJ/cm2 were applied five times per week for 18 weeks on the back skin of the mice. After each UVB treatment, topical application of astaxanthin (350 μM) was coated on the exposed areas. After only 5 weeks, the appearance of new wrinkles were significantly reduced up until the end of the study period, (2001) demonstrates the same anti-wrinkle observations in female human subjects (n=3) using a topical cream containing astaxanthin. A dermatological assessment revealed significant reduction of wrinkles and puffiness on the lower eye and cheeks after 2 weeks of use. In a separate test using female subjects (n=11), instrument analysis recorded significant moisture improvement.

Figure 1. Cheek moisture retention after 3 weeks application of astaxanthin cream (0.07% of 5% astaxanthin extract; Seki et al., 2001).

  Figure 1. Cheek moisture retention after 3 weeks application of astaxanthin cream (0.07% of 5% astaxanthin extract; Seki <em>et al.</em>, 2001) 
 Increased moisture content in 8 out of 11 subjects.

Skin Health that can be Swallowed

“Beauty from within” or improved skin condition through nutrition and supplementation is a worldwide trend that is on the increase. The market for beauty supplements is currently worth 800 million dollars, and rapid growth in this segment is expected over the next 10 years. Two human clinical trials established the use of astaxanthin to improve visible signs of premature aging and general skin health. The first, a double-blind placebo controlled study (Yamashita 2002), showed that astaxanthin in combination with tocotrienol, (a superior form of vitamin E), improved several aspects of overall skin condition. Eight female subjects with dry skin conditions (mean age 40 yrs) received daily doses containing 2 mg astaxanthin and 40 mg natural tocotrienols. Several types of data were collected at 2 and 4 weeks and compared to the initial baseline readings. Measurable differences were observed starting just 2 weeks after supplementation. By the 4th week, the treated subjects with dry skin characteristics exhibited the following: increased moisture levels.

Figure 2. Beauty supplement results for the cheek and eye region (Yamashita, 2002) Figure 2. Beauty supplement results for the cheek and eye region (Yamashita, 2002) 
Moisture levels increased in treated groups at 2 and 4 weeks. Control groups got worse.
Figure 3. Magnified Skin Section at start, 2 and 4 weeks (Yamashita, 2002)
  Figure 3. Magnified Skin Section at start, 2 and 4 weeks (Yamashita, 2002)  
Visible reduction of fine wrinkles

In the second study by Yamashita (2006), female subjects with a variety of skin types (n=49, mean age 47 yrs) were given either 4 mg (2 x 2 mg) astaxanthin or placebo in a single-blind, randomized, controlled study. After six weeks of consuming 4mg astaxanthin per day, the results of a standard questionnaire showed that the treated group of women all felt that their skin condition had improved significantly (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Subject response after 6 weeks astaxanthin supplementation (Yamashita, 2006) Figure 4. Subject response after 6 weeks astaxanthin supplementation (Yamashita, 2006)  
Skin improvements seen in all categories after astaxanthin supplementation.

Instrument analysis proved that the treated group had indeed achieved positive results in hydration.

Figure 5. Dermatologist skin analysis of moisture and elasticity at 3 and 6 weeks astaxanthin supplementation (Yamashita, 2006).
  Figure 5. Dermatologist skin analysis of moisture and elasticity at 3 and 6 weeks astaxanthin supplementation (Yamashita, 2006).  
Astaxanthin reduced wrinkles and increase elasticity.

Astaxanthin and Skin Cancer

The risk of skin cancer is increased in skin which is frequently damaged by the sun. Although skin cancer is almost 99% curable if detected early, 1 out of 90 people in the US or 1 out of 150 people in the UK will develop melanomas. Those in the highest risk category are people exposed to frequent short bursts of strong sunlight. Sun screens can block the UV rays, but dietary carotenoids such as astaxanthin can be vital for skin protection as well.
In another study on hairless mice, Black (1998) demonstrates that astaxanthin significantly delays the UV ray formation of skin lesions and tumors. Further support comes from Savoure et al., (1995) which shows that hairless mice (SKH1) deficient in vitamin A, fed 10 mg/kg/feed astaxanthin alone or in combination with retinol, show enhanced skin protection after UVA and UVB irradiation. Astaxanthin significantly inhibited accumulation of putrescine .

Mechanism of Action

Skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous fat. The dermis contains collagen, elastin, and other fibers that support the skin’s structure. It is these elements that give skin its smooth and youthful appearance – and these are the parts of the skin that are damaged by UV radiation (UVR).


The UVR that affects the skin is composed of two types of waves; UVA and UVB. UVB rays are shorter than UVA rays, and are the main cause behind inflammation and melanin production. However, it is the UVA rays, with their longer wavelength, that are responsible for much of the damage associated with photoaging. UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, where they damage collagen fibers, leading to wrinkle formation (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Illustration showing effect of UVA, UVB & Ozone on skin

Figure 6. Illustration showing effect of UVA, UVB & Ozone on skin

UV rays induce the production of in situ radical oxygen species (ROS) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP). These factors are the root of wrinkle formation because they destroy the collagen matrix in the dermis. Fortunately, the skin’s repair mechanism will rebuild the damage collagen. However, the hindrance of skin renewal by repeated exposure to uncontrolled levels of ROS and MMP leads to the formation of wrinkles. The presence of astaxanthin attenuates the effects of reactive oxygen and MMP and therefore, it allows the skin to regenerate properly (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Astaxanthin supports skin renewal by attenuating factors which contribute to wrinkle formation Figure 7. Astaxanthin supports skin renewal by attenuating factors which contribute to wrinkle formation

Astaxanthin defends against Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)

Oxygen present in our cells can form harmful radicals known as ROS or active oxygen when sufficient energy from UV rays is applied. ROS include singlet oxygen, superoxides and hydroxyl radicals (leading to peroxyl radicals) and they attempt to steal electrons from neighboring molecules such as DNA, phospholipids, enzymes and protein in order to stabilize. Fortunately, astaxanthin is able to quench singlet oxygen reactions and supress lipid peroxidation much more effectively than other well known antioxidants and thus control the presence of ROS. In vitro singlet oxygen quenching activity of Astaxanthin was found to be superior when compared to Catechin, Vitamin C, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10, Tocopherol, Lutein and Beta Carotene (Nishida et al., 2007).

Astaxanthin Dominance against Singlet-Oxygen compared to other antioxidants

Singlet oxygen depletes the antioxidant defense system of fibroblasts, especially CAT and SOD. Fibroblasts secrete collagen, a main component of extracellular matrix which provides structural support to the cells. Exposing fibroblasts to singlet oxygen is a widely used technique to model ageing and UV oxidative stress. Furthermore, viability of the fibroblasts remains vital to the maintenance of healthy skin appearance. Tominaga et al (2009a) showed evidence on the ability of Astaxanthin to protect human dermal fibroblasts through in-vitro study. Human dermal fibroblasts were pre-incubated with Astaxanthin and other antioxidants and then exposed to singlet oxygen (Figure 8). Cell viability was restored to more than 80% when the cells were treated with Astaxanthin.
In another study, Camera et al. (2008) compared the photoprotective properties of astaxanthin to other antioxidants on human dermal fibroblasts. After a physiological dose of UVA was applied, roughly equal to a UV dose accumulated within 1-2 hours on a sunny day. Astaxanthin was considerably superior at preventing cell death (reduction of caspase-3 activity at protein level) compared to Canthaxanthin and Beta Carotene (Figure 9).

Figure 8. Astaxanthin’s cell protection ability comparison with other anti-oxidants (Tominaga 2009a) Figure 8. Astaxanthin's cell protection ability comparison with other anti-oxidants (Tominaga 2009a)  
Study showed that astaxanthin had the highest ability to protect cells.
Figure 9. UVA-induced activation of caspase-3, detected by annexin V staining, 24h after irradiation (Camela et al., 2008) 
 Figure 9. UVA-induced activation of caspase-3, detected by annexin V staining, 24h after irradiation (Camela <em>et al.</em>, 2008)

Gaining Customers’ Hearts with Tangible Results – Astaxanthin Inner and Outer Treatment

Complementing astaxanthin oral administration with astaxanthin topical treatment (dual treatment) can have enhanced synergistic effects against premature skin aging since astaxanthin is effective at all layers of skin, the skin surface, epidermis and dermis.
According to studies conducted by Tominaga et al. (2009b), astaxanthin “dual treatment” was found to be effective in all layers of skin. In a study with 28 subjects aged 20-55 years, astaxanthin effectively reduced wrinkles as well as improved skin elasticity. Replica analysis after 6 mg of astaxanthin supplementation combined with topical application for 8 weeks showed a reduction in the overall average wrinkle depth.
Furthermore, a reduction in wrinkle width by 9%.

Figure 10. Effects of Astaxanthin on skin elasticity after extended intake/external application (Tominaga 2009b)

  Figure 10. Effects of Astaxanthin on skin elasticity after extended intake/external application (Tominaga 2009b)

Figure 11. Stimulatory effects of Astaxanthin on collagen production and maintenance (Tominaga 2009b) Figure 11. Stimulatory effects of Astaxanthin on collagen production and maintenance (Tominaga 2009b)

Anti-inflammatory Action

Inflammation that normally follows sun exposure can be modulated by a powerful antioxidant. Yamashita (1995) shows in healthy male subjects (n=7), that topical natural astaxanthin significantly reduces burn level (erythema) by 60% at 98 hours after UVB exposure. We now know that astaxanthin works by suppressing the proinflammatory mediators and cytokines via the IκB kinase dependant NF-κB activation pathway (Lee et al., 2003).

Safety for Topical & Nutritional Use

Natural astaxanthin is determined safe for topical and nutritional use. A total of forty-five subjects (males and females) were exposed to the Standard Japanese Patch test and results were reported 24 and 48 hours after application. Dermatitis was only induced by the adhesive plaster and not astaxanthin itself (Seki et al., 2002). Furthermore, Koura (2005) reports no adverse topical reactions in animal sensitization models. Astaxanthin is listed in the JP Cosmetics and INCI name as astaxanthin.


Naturally, the best way to avoid photo-aging is through prevention of the solar effects on skin by applying sunscreen to areas vulnerable to increased exposure. However, recent surveys reveal that people in general are not doing enough to protect their skin. The use of powerful carotenoids like astaxanthin in topical and nutritional skin products can help deliver the benefits against the risk of accelerated photo-aging and skin cancer.


  1. www.skincancer.org
  2. www.skincancerfacts.org.uk/facts.asp
  3. Yamashita(2006). The Effects of a Dietary Supplement Containing Astaxanthin on Skin Condition. Carotenoid Science, 10:91-95.
  4. Koura(2005). Skin sensitization study of Astaxanthin in Guinea Pigs. Study No. 05035. New Drug Research Center Inc., Hokkaido Japan.
  5. Lee et al., (2003). Astaxanthin Inhibits Nitric Oxide Production and Inflammatory Gene Expression by Suppressing IκB Kinase-dependent NF-κB Activation. Molecules and Cells, 16(1):97-105.
  6. Arakane (2002), Superior Skin Protection via Astaxanthin. Carotenoid Sci., 5:21-24.
  7. Lyons & O’Brien et al., (2002). Modulatory effects of an algal extract containing astaxanthin on UVA-irradiated cells in culture. Journal of Derma. Sci., 30(1):73-84.
  8. Yamashita (2002). Cosmetic benefit of the supplement health food combined astaxanthin and tocotrienol on human skin. Food Style 21, 6(6):112-117.
  9. Seki et al., (2001). Effects of astaxanthin from haematococcus pluvialis on human skin. Fragrance J., 12:98-103.
  10. Black (1998). Radical Interception by carotenoids and effects on UV carcinogenesis. Nutrition Cancer., 31(3):212-217.
  11. O’Connor & O’Brien (1998). Modulation of UVA light induced oxidative stress by beta-carotene, lutein and astaxanthin in cultured fibroblasts. J. Derma. Sci., 16(3):226-230.
  12. Savoure et al., (1995). Vitamin A status and metabolism of cutaneous polyamines in the hairless mouse after UV irradiation: action of beta-carotene and astaxanthin. International J Vit. and Nutr. Res., 65(2):79-86.
  13. Yamashita (1995). Suppression of post UVB hyperpigmentation by topical astaxanthin from krill. Fragrance J., 14:180-185.
  14. Miki (1991). Biological functions and activities of animal carotenoids. Pure & Appl. Chem., 63(1):141-146.
  15. Camera et al., (2009). Astaxanthin, canthaxanthin and beta carotene differently affect UVA-induced oxidative damage and expression of oxidative stress-responsive enzymes. Experimental Dermatology. Vol. 18 (3), Pages 222 – 231 .
  16. Tominaga et al., (2009a). Protective effects of astaxanthin against single oxgyen induced damage in human dermal fibroblasts in-vitro Food Style 21, 13(1):84-86.
  17. Tominaga et al., (2009b). Cosmetic effects of astaxanthin for all layers of skin. Food Style 21, 13(10):25-29.
  18. Nishida et al. (2007). Carotenoid Science. Vol.11:16-20.
CCRES special thanks to 
  Mr. Mitsunori Nishida, 
President of Corporate Fuji Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES) 

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Astaxanthin carotenoid

Astaxanthin carotenoid

photo by CCRES ALGAE Team
 Astaxanthin is found in microalgae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish, crustaceans, and the feathers of some birds. It provides the red color of salmon meat and the red color of cooked shellfish.
photo by CCRES ALGAE Team
Astaxanthin, unlike several carotenes and one other known carotenoid, is not converted to vitamin A (retinol) in the human body. Like other carotenoids, astaxanthin has self-limited absorption orally and such low toxicity by mouth that no toxic syndrome is known.
photo by CCRES ALGAE Team
 It is an antioxidant with a slightly lower antioxidant activity in some model systems than other carotenoids. However, in living organisms the free-radical terminating effectiveness of each carotenoid is heavily modified by its lipid solubility, and thus varies with the type of system being protected.

photo by CCRES ALGAE Team
While astaxanthin is a natural nutritional component, it can also be used as a food supplement. The supplement is intended for human, animal, and aquaculture consumption. The commercial production of astaxanthin comes from both natural and synthetic sources.
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Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis

Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis

President & CEO of CCRES
Astaxanthin, a member of the carotenoid family, it is a dark red pigment and the main carotenoid found in algae and aquatic animals. It is responsible for the red/pink coloration of crustaceans, shellfish, and the flesh of salmonoids. Algatechnologies produces astaxanthin from the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis, the richest known natural source for astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin however, is more than just a red pigment, it is primarily an extremely powerful antioxidant. It has the unique capacity to quench free radicals and reactive species of oxygen and to inhibit lipid peroxidation. Studies have shown astaxanthin to be over 500 times stronger than vitamin E and much more potent than other carotenoids such as lutein, lycopene and β-carotene.
Astaxanthin was found to have beneficial effects in many health conditions related to the Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders, skin health, joint health, muscle endurance, as well as to the cardiovascular, immune, eye and other systems.

Natural astaxanthin – molecule properties

Astaxanthin (3,3’-dihydroxy-β-β-carotene-4,4’-dione) is a xanthophyll  carotenoid,  commonly found in marine environments where it gives an orange-pink coloration to several sea-species.

CCRES  Haematococcus pluvialis
Astaxanthin has two chiral centers, at the 3 and 3′ positions. The main astaxanthin stereoisomer (3S, 3S’) found in the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis is the main form found in wild salmon.

CCRES  Haematococcus pluvialis
 Astaxanthin consists of geometric isomers (trans and cis). the cis isomers display higher bioavailability and potency in humans This isomer is abundant (up to 20%) in the natural astaxanthin complex produced by the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis.

CCRES  Haematococcus pluvialis

The astaxanthin in Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae occurs in the esterified form, which is more stable than the free astaxanthin form.

CCRES  Haematococcus pluvialis

Astaxanthin cannot be synthesized by animals and humans and must be provided in the diet. Natural astaxanthin has been part of the human diet for thousands of years.

CCRES  Haematococcus pluvialis

Astaxanthin, unlike most carotenes is not converted to vitamin A (retinol) in the human body.

CCRES  Haematococcus pluvialis

Natural astaxanthin has no “pro-oxidant” activity – It does not become an exhausted oxidant thanks to its unique molecule structure that is able to release the excess of energy as heat.

CCRES  Haematococcus pluvialis
 Astaxanthin has been shown to actually cross the blood-brain and blood-retina barriers, meaning it can positively impact disorders related to brain and the central nervous system.
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Antioxidant, Astaxanthin, Beta Carotene




Acetyl-L-Carnitine – is a Carnitine derivative and an ammonium compound derived from the amino acid Lysine. It supports healthy cardiac enzyme levels, heart contractions, circulation, and exercise tolerance, by assisting with the transport of fatty acids into the cell for energy production.
Antioxidant – An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation produces free radicals which damage and destroy cells throughout the body.
Astaxanthin – is a red carotenoid and a potent antioxidant that is over 500 times more powerful than Vitamin E and 10 – 20 times stronger than other carotenoids such as zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopene and beta-carotene. While found in plants and animals, it is most prevalent in the marine environment and in algae and phytoplankton.
Beta Carotene – a carotenoid, supports skin, eyes and the immune system. A safe source of vitamin A.
Bilberry – a close relative of blueberry, has a long history of medicinal use for a variety of eye disorders, including poor night vision, eyestrain, and myopia. Shown to improve night vision and may inhibit or reverse degenerative eye disorders. Bilberries contain high levels of anthocyanin pigments, which have been linked experimentally to lowered risk for several diseases, such as those of the heart and cardiovascular system, and eyes.
Boswellia Serrata Extract – has a long history in Ayurvedic Medicine as a pain reducing agent
Borage Oil – a source of GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid), it enhances and supports skin health, studies suggest that it eases common PMS symptoms.
Carotenoids – a widespread group of naturally occurring pigments. These compounds are largely responsible for the red, yellow, and orange color of fruits and vegetables i.e. carrots (beta carotene), corn (zeaxanthin), tomato (lycopene) and egg yolk (lutein). Many are powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from free radical damage. They are also believed to enhance the function of the immune system.
CoQ10 (ubiquinone) – found naturally in the energy-producing center of the cell known as the mitochondria. CoQ10 is involved in the making of an important molecule known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP serves as the cell’s major energy source. Apart from its important function of providing energy, CoQ10 also stabilizes cell membranes, and as an antioxidant, it destroys free radicals in the body. These unstable molecules can cause damage to normal cells.
Eyebright Extract – a wild plant native to Europe. The name eyebright is thought to come from its use as a traditional folk remedy for eye irritation. The active ingredients appear to be the tannins, which are thought to decrease inflammation. 

Free Radical – molecules responsible for damaging tissue and healthy cells.
Gamma Linolenic Acid GLA – one of the two main types of essential fatty acids (EFA). These are “good” fats that are as necessary for your health as vitamins. Although essential to human health, EFA’s cannot be made in the body. For this reason, they must be obtained from food. EFAs are needed for normal brain function, growth and development, bone health, stimulation of skin and hair growth, regulation of metabolism, and maintenance of reproductive processes.
GMP Certified – Products are produced using current Good Manufacturing Practices certified by the Natural Products Association. Founded in 1936, the NPA represents the interests of manufacturers and retailers of a wide variety of natural products including organic and health foods, natural ingredient cosmetics, sports nutrition products and vitamins, herbs and other dietary supplements.
GRAS – Generally Recognized As Safe by the US Food and Drug Administration for all food, beverage and supplement applications
 Iron – essential in the formation of red blood cells and transportation of oxygen throughout the body. Iron assists the memory and helps build resistance to infection, stress and disease
Lutein – A yellow carotenoid pigment, found in certain fruits and vegetables as well as egg yolks, lutein is a nutrient with a number of potentially beneficial effects. In people, lutein and zeaxanthin make up most of the pigment in the center of the retina, where vision sensitivity is greatest. Studies suggest that it may play an important role in maintaining healthy vision and preventing eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts by neutralizing free radicals and increasing the density of eye pigment. Lutein may also shield the eyes from the destructive effects of sunlight.
Lycopene – a red carotenoid, a fat-soluble pigment found in vegetables, and most commonly found in tomatoes. A number of studies have indicated that a lycopene rich diet lowers the risk of certain chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine – is a form of the amino acid cysteine, which is commonly found in food and synthesized by the body. It may be beneficial for an inflammatory condition of the inner eyelid, and other eye disorders.
Manganese – a trace mineral responsible for activating enzymes responsible for the utilization of several key nutrients including biotin, thiamin, ascorbic acid, and choline. It is a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol, facilitates protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and may also participate in the production of sex hormones and maintaining reproductive health.
Organic Flaxseed Oil – Flaxseed is the seed from the plant Linum usitatissimum. Oil from the seed is used to make medicine. Flaxseed oil/linseed oil is a rich source of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) 
Organic Olive Oil – the beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidative substances called polyphenols. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels. 
Oleoresin – non-solvent oil which helps preserve the stability of Astaxanthin over time.
Omega Fatty Acids – reduce inflammation throughout the body, a key factor in the symptoms associated with aging. Scientific research has shown Omega Fatty Acids help relieve pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, support lower blood pressure and can help reduce depression.
Phytochemicals – are plant substances with high levels of antioxidants such as Phycocyanin, Zeaxanthin, Beta-Carotene and Chlorophyll. It is the high levels of these Phytochemicals and Phycocyanin in particular that sets Spirulina Pacifica® apart from all other Superfoods.
Phycocyanin – a photosynthetic pigment, for liver, kidney and brain health, with immune enhancing and anti-viral properties. Only found in blue-green microalgae like Spirulina.
Rice Bran Oil – Oryzan (High Oryzanol) – rich in vitamin E, γ-oryzanol, an antioxidant that may help prevent heart attacks, and phytosterols, compounds believed to help lower cholesterol absorption. Oryzanol may reduce plasma cholesterol, reduce cholesterol absorption, decrease early atherosclerosis, and inhibit platelet aggregation.
Spirulina – is a blue-green algae found in high alkaline lakes in Africa and Central America. It is approximately 60% complete, highly digestible protein with the highest levels of beta-carotene found naturally. It has high levels of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, B Vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) – an enzyme that acts as an antioxidant in the body, neutralizing free radicals and helping to repair cells
Tocopherols – is the name given to vitamin E by its discoverer, but now a generic term for vitamin E and compounds chemically related to it. Tocopherols are fat-soluble antioxidants, protecting cells from damage, but also seem to have many other functions in the body.
Vitamin A – necessary for cell growth, bone growth, good vision, and a healthy immune system.
Vitamin K1 & Vitamin K2 – essential vitamins known to promote blood clotting and support bone health. Recent studies have confirmed that Vitamin K2 may help osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases.
Vitamin B12 – an essential vitamin that is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells.
Zeaxanthin – a carotenoid and powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage with specific benefits for eye and cellular health.  Studies support the view that supplemental lutein and/or zeaxanthin help protect against age related eye problems. There is also epidemiological evidence that increasing lutein and zeaxanthin intake lowers the risk of cataract development.
CCRES Algae Project
part of 

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

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