, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 19–32 | Cite as

Neuroprotective mechanisms of astaxanthin: a potential therapeutic role in preserving cognitive function in age and neurodegeneration

  • Bethany Grimmig
  • Seol-Hee Kim
  • Kevin Nash
  • Paula C. BickfordEmail author
  • R. Douglas Shytle
Review Article


Astaxanthin (AXT) is a carotenoid with multiple health benefits. It is currently marketed as a health supplement and is well known for its antioxidant capacity. Recent evidence has emerged to suggest a broad range of biological activities. The interest in this compound has increased dramatically over the last few years and many studies are now applying this molecule across many disease models. Results from the current research are beginning to come together to suggest neuroprotective properties including anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and antioxidant effects, as well as the potential to promote or maintain neural plasticity. These emergent mechanisms of actions implicate AXT as a promising therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative disease. This review will examine and extrapolate from the recent literature to build support for the use of AXT in mitigating neuropathy in normal aging and neurodegenerative disease.


Astaxanthin Aging Neuroprotection Neural plasticity Microglial function 


Author’s contributions

BG, SHK, KN, PCB, and RDS contributed to the writing and revision of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

PCB is a member of the scientific advisory board for Nutrex, Hawaii; RDS was awarded funding from manufactures of AXT supplements.


Grant support: VA MRS grants I01BX003421; I01BX000231 (PCB); NIH R01AG044919 (PCB).


The content of this article does not represent the views of the VA or the government of the USA.


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Copyright information

© American Aging Association (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bethany Grimmig
    • 1
  • Seol-Hee Kim
    • 1
  • Kevin Nash
    • 2
  • Paula C. Bickford
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • R. Douglas Shytle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, Morsani College of MedicineUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, Morsani College of MedicineUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  3. 3.James A Haley VA HospitalTampaUSA

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