Oxidative stress is a major contributor to the pathogenesis of various human diseases as well as to the aging process. Mitochondria, as the center of cellular metabolism and major regulators of redox balance, play a critical role in disease development and progression. Mitochondrial dysfunction involving structural and metabolic impairment is prominent in oxidative stress-related diseases. Increased oxidative stress can damage mitochondria, and subsequent mitochondrial dysfunction generates excesses of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species that cause cellular damage. Mitochondrial dysfunction also activates the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway, resulting in cellular death. Astaxanthin, a red-colored xanthophyll carotenoid, exerts an anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effect on various cell lines. In this manner astaxanthin maintains mitochondrial integrity under various pathological conditions. In this review, the inhibitory effects of astaxanthin on oxidative stress-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and related disease development are discussed.
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