Astaxanthin Has Potential for Treating Kidney Disease in Diabetes

September 13, 2009

Algae with Red Pigment Astaxanthin Researchers have found that astaxanthin, a naturally occurring carotenoid pigment with powerful antioxidant properties that exists naturally in various plants, algae, and seafood has a protective effect against several harmful effects caused by high glucose exposure as found in diabetes.

Health benefits such as cardiovascular disease prevention, immune system boosting, bioactivity against Helycobacter pylori, and cataract prevention, have been associated with astaxanthin consumption.

Diabetic nephropathy is kidney disease that results as a complication of diabetes. High blood sugar levels and the resulting oxidative stress are linked to complications in diabetes including nephropathy.

Diabetes has become the most common single cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S., nephropathy in diabetes accounts for about 40% of new cases of ESRD.

The current study examined the protective action of astaxanthin against high-glucose-induced oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis in renal cells. To assess the efficacy of astaxanthin, several key markers and activities were measured, and astaxanthin effectively suppressed lipid peroxidation, total reactive species,  superoxide, nitric oxide, peroxynitrite, inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 protein levels, nuclear factor-kappa B nuclear translocation, and pro-apototic Bax, whereas it increased anti-apoptotic Bcl2 protein levels.

The researchers have proposed that astaxanthin should be explored further as a potential remedy for the treatment of nephropathy in diabetes.

1. You Jung Kimm, et al. Protection against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Apoptosis of High-Glucose-Exposed Proximal Tubular Epithelial Cells by Astaxanthin. J. Agric. Food Chem., DOI: 10.1021/jf9019745.
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3. Higuera-Ciapara I, Félix-Valenzuela L, Goycoolea FM. Astaxanthin: a review of its chemistry and applications. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(2):185-96. PMID: 16431409.
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