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Food Addit Contam. 2006 Nov;23(11):1056-63.

Determination of astaxanthin stereoisomers and colour attributes in flesh of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) as a tool to distinguish the dietary pigmentation source.

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Department of Veterinary Science and Technology for Food Safety, University of Milan, Via Trentacoste 2, I-20134 Milan, Italy.


The presence of carotenoids in animal tissue reflects their sources along the food chain. Astaxanthin, the main carotenoid used for salmonid pigmentation, is usually included in the feed as a synthetic product. However, other dietary sources of astaxanthin such as shrimp or krill wastes, algae meal or yeasts are also available on the market. Astaxanthin possesses two identical asymmetric atoms at C-3 and C-3' making possible three optical isomers with all-trans configuration of the chain: 3S,3'S, 3R,3'S, and 3R,3'R. The distribution of the isomers in natural astaxanthin differs from that of the synthetic product. This latter is a racemic mixture, with a typical ratio of 1:2:1 (3S,3'S:3R,3'S:3R,3'R), while astaxanthin from natural sources has a variable distribution of the isomers deriving from the different biological organism that synthesized it. The high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) analysis of all-trans isomers of astaxanthin was performed in different pigment sources, such as red yeast Phaffia rhodozyma, alga meal Haematococcus pluvialis, krill meal and oil, and shrimp meal. With the aim to investigate astaxanthin isomer ratios in flesh of fish fed different carotenoid sources, three groups of rainbow trout were fed for 60 days diets containing astaxanthin from synthetic source, H. pluvialis algae meal and P. rhodozyma red yeast. Moreover, the distribution of optical isomers of astaxanthin in trout purchased on the Italian market was investigated. A characteristic distribution of astaxanthin stereoisomers was detected for each pigment sources and such distribution was reproduced in the flesh of trout fed with that source. Colour values measured in different sites of fillet of rainbow trout fed with different pigment sources showed no significant differences. Similarly, different sources of pigment (natural or synthetic) produced colour values of fresh fillet with no relevant or significant differences. The coefficient of distance computed amongst the feed ingredient and the trout fillet astaxanthin stereoisomers was a useful tool to identify the origin of the pigment used on farm.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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