The antioxidant astaxanthin, found in salmon and shellfish, prevents muscle fibrosis / scar tissue formation

  • People who suffer from bone fractures and have to stay immobile for a period of time realise that after the removal of the cast muscles are stiff, due to scar tissue formation
  • In general, any source of immobility, results in fibrosis in muscles, which to some extent is due to the effect of reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as free radical damage and oxidative damage
  • In the past, astaxanthin, a carotenoid antioxidant found in salmon and shellfish (and also widely available as a nutritional supplement), has been shown to be effective against fibrosis in disused muscle
  • Now a new study has demonstrated that indeed astaxanthin reduces oxidative damage and TGF-beta, the most important pro-fibrotic protein.
  • Astaxanthin is the compound that gives salmon, shellfish (and flamingos!) their pink colour and it is used by algae as a protection against oxidative damage from UV-radiation. Astaxanthin enters the marine food chain and is concentrated in salmon and shellfish.
  • Astaxanthin is widely available as a supplement, safe and beneficial for many other health conditions mediated by free radical damage, and may be a helpful preventive measure against muscle scar tissue formation due to immobilisation.
  • Due to its effect on ROS and TGF-β-beta, astaxanthin may be useful against other fibrotic diseases
  • Source: Astaxanthin supplementation attenuates immobilization-induced skeletal muscle fibrosis via suppression of oxidative stress.
  • Abstract: Immobilization induces skeletal muscle fibrosis characterized by increasing collagen synthesis in the perimysium and endomysium. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is associated with this lesion via promoting differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. In addition, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are shown to mediate TGF-β1-induced fibrosis in tissues. These reports suggest the importance of ROS reduction for attenuating skeletal muscle fibrosis. Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, has been shown to reduce ROS production in disused muscle. Therefore, we investigated the effects of astaxanthin supplementation on muscle fibrosis under immobilization. In the present study, immobilization increased the collagen fiber area, the expression levels of TGF-β1, α-smooth muscle actin, and superoxide dismutase-1 protein and ROS production. However, these changes induced by immobilization were attenuated by astaxanthin supplementation. These results indicate the effectiveness of astaxanthin supplementation on skeletal muscle fibrosis induced by ankle joint immobilization.