Marine drugs

Astaxanthin protects steroidogenesis from hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress in mouse Leydig cells.

PMID 25786065


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.

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