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Brain Res. 2009 Feb 13;1254:18-27. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.11.076. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Astaxanthin inhibits reactive oxygen species-mediated cellular toxicity in dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells via mitochondria-targeted protective mechanism.

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Laboratory of Food and Biodynamics, Graduate School of Bioagricultural Science, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan.


Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that occurs naturally in a wide variety of living organisms. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect and the mechanism of astaxanthin on reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated apoptosis in dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells. The treatment with DHA hydroperoxide (DHA-OOH) or 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), either of which is ROS-inducing neurotoxin, led to a significant decrease in viable dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells by MTT assay, whereas a significant protection was shown while the cells were pretreated with astaxanthin. Moreover, 100 nM astaxanthin pretreatment significantly inhibited apoptosis, mitochondrial abnormalities and intracellular ROS generation occurred in either DHA-OOH- or 6-OHDA-treated cells. The neuroprotective effect of astaxanthin is suggested to be dependent upon its antioxidant potential and mitochondria protection; therefore, it is suggested that astaxanthin may be an effective treatment for oxidative stress-associated neurodegeneration.

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