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Thermal stability and oral absorbability of astaxanthin esters from Haematococcus pluvialis in Balb/c mice

Zhou, Qingxin, Xu, Jie, Yang, Lu, Gu, Caixia, Xue, Changhu
Journal of the science of food and agriculture 2019 v.99 no.7 pp. 3662-3671
Haematococcus pluvialis, adipose tissue, astaxanthin, bioactive compounds, bioavailability, blood plasma, digestive tract, fatty acid esters, functional foods, heart, intestinal absorption, isomers, liver, mice, muscles, spleen, thermal stability
BACKGROUND: Astaxanthin is used as a functional nutraceutical and pigment in many food products. It is mostly exists in the form of a fatty acid ester in nature. However, no detailed descriptions are available concerning the stability and oral absorbability of astaxanthin esters. In the present study, the thermal stability and absorbability of astaxanthin esters from Haematococcus pluvialis were evaluated in comparison with free‐form astaxanthin. RESULTS: The thermal stability of astaxanthin esters was found to be higher than that of free‐form astaxantin. After gavage with astaxanthin esters, only free‐form astaxanthin was detected in the digestive tract wall, blood plasma and liver, indicating that astaxanthin esters must be hydrolyzed to free‐form astaxanthin in the gut before absorption. Furthermore, there was a considerable selective accumulation of different astaxanthin isomers in Balb/c mice, which selectivity decreased in the order: 13‐cis > all‐trans > 9‐cis. Accumulated astaxanthin was mainly distributed in the heart, liver, spleen, muscle and adipose tissue, although significant differences between tissues were observed. CONCLUSION: From the present study, it can be concluded that astaxanthin esters had a higher thermal stability and higher bioavailability than free‐form astaxanthin. These results provide important evidence with respect to using astaxanthin esters as bioactive components to replace free‐form astaxanthin in functional food products. © 2019 Society of Chemical Industry