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Open AccessArticle

Astaxanthin Protects Steroidogenesis from Hydrogen Peroxide-Induced Oxidative Stress in Mouse Leydig Cells

Department of Animal Science and Technology, College of Bio-Resources and Agriculture, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan
Department and Institute of Life Science, Fu-Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City 242, Taiwan
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Pingtung Branch, Pingtung 912, Taiwan
Department of Emergency Medicine, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Kaohsiung 813, Taiwan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
The first two authors contributed equally.
Academic Editor: Orazio Taglialatela-Scafati
Mar. Drugs 2015, 13(3), 1375-1388;
Received: 2 December 2014 / Revised: 9 February 2015 / Accepted: 9 February 2015 / Published: 16 March 2015
PDF [544 KB, uploaded 16 March 2015]


Androgens, especially testosterone produced in Leydig cells, play an essential role in development of the male reproductive phenotype and fertility. However, testicular oxidative stress may cause a decline in testosterone production. Many antioxidants have been used as reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers to eliminate oxidative stress to protect steroidogenesis. Astaxanthin (AST), a natural extract from algae and plants ubiquitous in the marine environment, has been shown to have antioxidant activity in many previous studies. In this study, we treated primary mouse Leydig cells or MA-10 cells with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to cause oxidative stress. Testosterone and progesterone production was suppressed and the expression of the mature (30 kDa) form of StAR protein was down-regulated in MA-10 cells by H2O2 and cAMP co-treatment. However, progesterone production and expression of mature StAR protein were restored in MA-10 cells by a one-hour pretreatment with AST. AST also reduced ROS levels in cells so that they were lower than the levels in untreated controls. These results provide additional evidence of the potential health benefits of AST as a potential food additive to ease oxidative stress. View Full-Text
Keywords: astaxanthin; steroidogenesis; testosterone; oxidative stress; hydrogen peroxide astaxanthin; steroidogenesis; testosterone; oxidative stress; hydrogen peroxide

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Wang, J.-Y.; Lee, Y.-J.; Chou, M.-C.; Chang, R.; Chiu, C.-H.; Liang, Y.-J.; Wu, L.-S. Astaxanthin Protects Steroidogenesis from Hydrogen Peroxide-Induced Oxidative Stress in Mouse Leydig Cells. Mar. Drugs 2015, 13, 1375-1388.

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