British Journal of Nutrition

Molecular Nutrition

Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin on phospholipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes

Kiyotaka Nakagawaa1 c1, Takehiro Kikoa1, Taiki Miyazawaa1, Gregor Carpentero Burdeosa1, Fumiko Kimuraa1, Akira Satoha2 and Teruo Miyazawaa1

a1 Food and Biodynamic Chemistry Laboratory, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University, Sendai 981-8555, Japan

a2 Life Science Institute, Yamaha Motor Company Limited, Shizuoka 437-0061, Japan


Phospholipid hydroperoxides (PLOOH) accumulate abnormally in the erythrocytes of dementia patients, and dietary xanthophylls (polar carotenoids such as astaxanthin) are hypothesised to prevent the accumulation. In the present study, we conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial to assess the efficacy of 12-week astaxanthin supplementation (6 or 12 mg/d) on both astaxanthin and PLOOH levels in the erythrocytes of thirty middle-aged and senior subjects. After 12 weeks of treatment, erythrocyte astaxanthin concentrations were higher in both the 6 and 12 mg astaxanthin groups than in the placebo group. In contrast, erythrocyte PLOOH concentrations were lower in the astaxanthin groups than in the placebo group. In the plasma, somewhat lower PLOOH levels were found after astaxanthin treatment. These results suggest that astaxanthin supplementation results in improved erythrocyte antioxidant status and decreased PLOOH levels, which may contribute to the prevention of dementia.

(Received July 19 2010)

(Revised November 25 2010)

(Accepted November 26 2010)

(Online publication January 31 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: K. Nakagawa, fax +81 22 717 8905, email


Abbreviations: CL, chemiluminescence; MRM, multiple reaction monitoring; PCOOH, phosphatidylcholine hydroperoxide; PEOOH, phosphatidylethanolamine hydroperoxide; PL, phospholipid; PLOOH, phospholipid hydroperoxide