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Biofactors. 2004;20(1):49-59.

Prevention of diabetic nephropathy by treatment with astaxanthin in diabetic db/db mice.

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Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8566, Japan.


Oxidative stress is implicated as an important mechanism by which diabetes causes nephropathy. Astaxanthin, which is found as a common pigment in algae, fish, and birds, is a carotenoid with significant potential for antioxidative activity. In this study, we examined whether chronic administration of astaxanthin could prevent the progression of diabetic nephropathy induced by oxidative stress in mice. We used female db/db mice, a rodent model of type 2 diabetes, and their non-diabetic db/m littermates. The mice were divided into three groups as follows: non-diabetic db/m, diabetic db/db, and diabetic db/db treated with astaxanthin. Blood glucose level, body weight, urinary albumin, and urinary 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) were measured during the experiments. Histological and 8-OHdG immunohistochemical studies were performed for 12 weeks from the beginning of treatment. After 12 weeks of treatment, the astaxanthin-treated group showed a lower level of blood glucose compared with the non-treated db/db group; however, both groups had a significantly high level compared with the db/m mice. The relative mesangial area calculated by the mesangial area/total glomerular area ratio was significantly ameliorated in the astaxanthin-treated group compared with the non-treated db/db group. The increases in urinary albumin and 8-OHdG at 12 weeks of treatment were significantly inhibited by chronic treatment with astaxanthin. The 8-OHdG immunoreactive cells in glomeruli of non-treated db/db mice were more numerous than in the astaxanthin-treated db/db mice. In this study, treatment with astaxanthin ameliorated the progression and acceleration of diabetic nephropathy in the rodent model of type 2 diabetes. The results suggested that the antioxidative activity of astaxanthin reduced the oxidative stress on the kidneys and prevented renal cell damage. In conclusion, administration of astaxanthin might be a novel approach for the prevention of diabetes nephropathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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