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Exp Dermatol. 2014 Mar;23(3):178-83. doi: 10.1111/exd.12347.

Astaxanthin, a xanthophyll carotenoid, inhibits ultraviolet-induced apoptosis in keratinocytes.

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Department of Dermatology, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan.


Intra-cellular reactive nitrogen/oxygen species and apoptosis play important roles in ultraviolet (UV)-induced inflammatory responses in the skin. Astaxanthin (AST), a xanthophyll carotenoid, exhibits diverse clinical benefits. The protective effects of AST against UV-induced apoptosis were investigated in the present study. Astaxanthin (5 μm) caused a significant decrease in the protein content and the mRNA levels of inducible nitric oxide (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, and decreased the release of prostaglandin E2 from HaCaT keratinocytes after UVB (20 mJ/cm(2) ) or UVC (5 mJ/cm(2) ) irradiation. No significant protective effects against UV-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) were observed in AST-pretreated cells. Astaxanthin caused a significant inhibition of UV-irradiation-induced apoptosis, as evidence by a DNA fragmentation assay. Furthermore, we found that the treatment with AST caused a reduction in the UVB- or UVC-induced protein and mRNA expression of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), IL-1β and TNF-α in HaCaT keratinocytes. These results suggest that AST effectively protects against UV-induced inflammation by decreasing iNOS and COX-2, and thereby inhibiting the apoptosis of keratinocytes.


apoptosis; astaxanthin; keratinocyte; reactive oxygen species; ultraviolet

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