Anxiolytic potential of astaxanthin on experimental animal model

Rekha Mehani, Vijay Kumar Yadav, Rajnish Sankadia


Background: Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid found in nature primarily in marine organisms. Carotenoids are well known for their therapeutic benefits in the aging process and various diseases, because of their antioxidant properties. Additionally, astaxanthin has well-documented anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating effects. It is a known fact that oxidative stress is associated with depression, anxiety, and related psychiatric disorders. Astaxanthin may also reduce oxidative stress in the nervous system, reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Although astaxanthin has the ability to cross the blood–brain barrier and has a beneficial effect on the CNS, the effects of astaxanthin on anxiety and depression have not been reported.

Methods: In this study, to investigate the effects of astaxanthin on anxiety, we performed some behavioural tests including elevated plus maze test, hole-board test, light/dark exploration test.

Results: In elevated plus maze test the time spent in the closed arm by astaxanthin treated rats was significantly (P <0.05) decreased as compared to control. The number of readings in both the arms was significantly (P <0.05) increased in astaxanthin treated rats as compared to control. In hole board apparatus, it showed anxiolytic response by significantly reduced the number of head poking. Increased number of entries in the bright side and decrease of time spent by the animal in dark side were observed in the light/dark exploration test.

Conclusions: The present study indicates that Astaxanthin produces anxiolytic response at the dose of 3 mg/kg on experimental animal model.


Astaxanthin, Diazepam, Anxiety

Full Text:



Fassett RG, Coombes JS. Astaxanthin: a potential therapeutic agent in cardiovascular disease. Mar Drugs. 2011;9:447-65.

Kistler A, Liechti H, Pichard L, Wolz E, Oesterhelt G, Hayes A, et al. Metabolism and CYP-inducer properties of astaxanthin in man and primary human hepatocytes. Arch Toxicol. 2002;75:665-75.

Goto S, Kogure K, Abe K, Kimata Y, Kitahama K, Yamashita E, et al. Efficient radical trapping at the surface and inside the phospholipid membrane is responsible for highly potent antiperoxidative activity of the carotenoid astaxanthin. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001;1512:251-8.

Park JS, Chyun JH, Kim YK, Line LL, Chew BP. Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. NutrMetab. 2010;7:18.

Genest J. C-reactive protein: risk factor, biomarker and/or therapeutic target? Can J Cardiol. 2010;26:41A-4A.

Yoshida H, Yanai H, Ito K, Tomono Y, Koikeda T, Tsukahara H, et al. Administration of natural astaxanthin increases serum HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in subjects with mild hyperlipidemia. Atherosclerosis, 2010;209:520-3.

Satoh A, Tsuji S, Okada Y, Murakami N, Urami M, Nakagawa K, et al. Preliminary clinical evaluation of toxicity and efficacy of a new astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2009;44:280-4.

Zhang X, Pan L, Wei X, Gao H, Liu J. Impact of astaxanthin-enriched algal powder of Haematococcuspluvialison memory improvement in BALB/c mice. Environ Geochem Health. 2007;29:483-9.

Hussein G, Nakamura M, Zhao Q, Iguchi T, Goto H, Sankawa U. Antihypertensive and neuroprotective effects of astaxanthin in experimental animals. Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2005;28:47-52.

Masood A, Nadeem A, Mustafa SJ, O’Donnell JM. Reversal of oxidative stress-induced anxiety by inhibition of phosphodiesterase- 2 in mice. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2008;326:369-79.

Nishioka Y, Oyagi A, Tsuruma K, Shimazawa M, Ishibashi T, Hara H. The antianxiety like effect of astaxanthin extracted from Paracoccus Carotinifaciens. International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 2011;37(1):25-30 .

Tsuji M, Takeda H, Matsumiya T. Method for evaluation of emotionality in preclinical studies: usefulness of the hole-board test. Nippon Yakurigaku Zasshi. 2005;126:88-93.

Porsolt RD, Le Pichon M, Jalfre M. Depression: a new animal model sensitive to antidepressant treatments.Nature. 1977;266:730-2.

Barua CC, Roy JD, Buragohain B, Barua AG, Borah P, Lahkar M. Anxiolytic effect of hydroethanolic extract of Drymarai cordata L wild. Indian J. Exp. Biol. 2009;47:969-73.

Suzuki T, Amata M, Sakaue G, Nishimura S, Inoue T, Shibata M. Experimental Neuropathy in mice is associated with delayed behavioral changes related to anxiety and depression. Int Anesthesia Res Soc. 2007;104:6.

Pellow S, Chopin P, File SE, Briley M. Validation of open:closed arm entries in an elevated plus-maze as a measure of anxiety in the rat. J Neuroscience Methods. 1985;14(3):149-67.

Fernández Espejo E. Structure of the mouse behaviour on the elevated plus-maze test of anxiety.Behav Brain Res. 1997;86(1):105-12.

Zhang X, Pan L, Wei X, Gao H, Liu J. Impact of astaxanthin-enriched algal powder of Haematococcus pluvialis on memory improvement in BALB/c mice. Environ Geochem Health. 2007;29:483-9.

Lu YP, Liu SY, Sun H, Wu XM, Li JJ, Zhu L. Neuroprotective effect of astaxanthin on H2O2-induced neurotoxicity in vitro and on focal cerebral ischemia in vivo. Brain Res. 2010;1360:40-8.

Bouayed J, Rammal H, Younos C, Soulimani R. Positive correlation between peripheral blood granulocyte oxidative status and level of anxiety in mice. Eur J Pharmacol. 2007;564:146-9.

Burt DR. Reducing GABA receptors. Life Sci. 2003;73:1741-58.