Astaxanthin in cardiovascular health and disease.

Abstract: Oxidative stress and inflammation are established processes contributing to cardiovascular disease caused by atherosclerosis. However, antioxidant therapies tested in cardiovascular disease such as vitamin E, C and β-carotene have proved unsuccessful at reducing cardiovascular events and mortality. Although these outcomes may reflect limitations in trial design, new, more potent antioxidant therapies are being pursued. Astaxanthin, a carotenoid found in microalgae, fungi, complex plants, seafood, flamingos and quail is one such agent. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Limited, short duration and small sample size studies have assessed the effects of astaxanthin on oxidative stress and inflammation biomarkers and have investigated bioavailability and safety. So far no significant adverse events have been observed and biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation are attenuated with astaxanthin supplementation. Experimental investigations in a range of species using a cardiac ischaemia-reperfusion model demonstrated cardiac muscle preservation when astaxanthin is administered either orally or intravenously prior to the induction of ischaemia. Human clinical cardiovascular studies using astaxanthin therapy have not yet been reported. On the basis of the promising results of experimental cardiovascular studies and the physicochemical and antioxidant properties and safety profile of astaxanthin, clinical trials should be undertaken.