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J Agric Food Chem. 2017 Nov 29;65(47):10223-10232. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b04254. Epub 2017 Nov 16.

Bioaccessibility, Cellular Uptake, and Transport of Astaxanthin Isomers and their Antioxidative Effects in Human Intestinal Epithelial Caco-2 Cells.

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Guelph Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada , 93 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario N1G 5C9, Canada.


The bioaccessibility, bioavailability, and antioxidative activities of three astaxanthin geometric isomers were investigated using an in vitro digestion model and human intestinal Caco-2 cells. This study demonstrated that the trans-cis isomerization of all-E-astaxanthin and the cis-trans isomerization of Z-astaxanthins could happen both during in vitro gastrointestinal digestion and cellular uptake processes. 13Z-Astaxanthin showed higher bioaccessibility than 9Z- and all-E-astaxanthins during in vitro digestion, and 9Z-astaxanthin exhibited higher transport efficiency than all-E- and 13Z-astaxanthins. These might explain why 13Z- and 9Z-astaxanthins are found at higher concentrations in human plasma than all-E-astaxanthin in reported studies. All three astaxanthin isomers were effective in maintaining cellular redox homeostasis as seen in the antioxidant enzyme (CAT, SOD) activities ; 9Z- and 13Z- astaxanthins exhibited a higher protective effect than all-E-astaxanthin against oxidative stress as demonstrated by the lower cellular uptake of Z-astaxanthins and lower secretion and gene expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 in Caco-2 cells treated with H2O2. We conclude, for the first time, that Z-astaxanthin isomers may play a more important role in preventing oxidative stress induced intestinal diseases.


13Z-astaxanthin; 9Z-astaxanthin; Caco-2 cells; all-E-astaxanthin; bioaccessibility; cellular uptake; cis-isomers; in vitro digestion

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