Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 325–334

Blood appearance, metabolic transformation and plasma transport proteins of 14C-astaxanthin in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.)


  • G.H. Aas
    • Institute of Aquaculture Research ASAKVAFORSK
  • B. Bjerkeng
    • Institute of Aquaculture Research ASAKVAFORSK
  • T. Storebakken
    • Institute of Aquaculture Research ASAKVAFORSK
  • B. Ruyter
    • Institute of Aquaculture Research ASAKVAFORSK

DOI: 10.1023/A:1007890224389

Cite this article as:
Aas, G., Bjerkeng, B., Storebakken, T. et al. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry (1999) 21: 325. doi:10.1023/A:1007890224389


The time of appearance in blood, and transport of astaxanthin, and catabolic transformation of astaxanthin to idoxanthin were investigated in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) that had been force-fed a single dose of 14C-astaxanthin. In addition to the LPs, a major protein, associated with radiolabeled astaxanthin was detected. The maximum level of radiolabeled carotenoids in blood was attained 30 h after administration of 14C-astaxanthin. Radioactive idoxanthin (combined 3′,4′-cis and 3′,4′- trans glycolic isomers of idoxanthin) appeared after 6 h and a stable level was obtained after 18 h. LPDP and LP, separated by ultracentrifugation, contained on average 89 and 11% of the total radioactivity in plasma, respectively. During the 168 h experiment, maximum radioactivity in LP appeared after 22 h. Separation of plasma by ultracentrifugation on a discontinuous NaCl/KBr-gradient and an iodixanol-gradient confirmed that most of the radiolabeled carotenoids were present in the HDPF that did not contain LPs (58%), whereas HDL and LDL contained 36 and 6% of the radioactivity, respectively. Of the recovered radioactivity, astaxanthin in the HDPF comprised 82%, idoxanthin 5% and unidentified compounds 12%, whereas HDL contained 78% astaxanthin, 22% idoxanthin and no unidentified compounds. Proteins from the fractions with the high density and high radioactivity (iodixanol-gradient) were separated by PAGE under non-denaturing conditions and showed a radioactive band with parallel migration length to BSA and salmon albumin. These results show that astaxanthin is rapidly converted to idoxanthin and that the majority of astaxanthin in the plasma is associated with a protein other than LPs, presumably albumin. The identity of this protein requires verification.

albuminastaxanthinautoradiographyidoxanthinlipoproteinplasmapolyacrylamide gel electrophoresisultracentrifugation

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999