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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 954502, 14 pages
Research Article

Protective Effect of Astaxanthin on Liver Fibrosis through Modulation of TGF-1 Expression and Autophagy

Department of Gastroenterology, Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital, Tongji University of Medicine, Shanghai 200072, China

Received 4 November 2013; Revised 16 February 2014; Accepted 25 February 2014; Published 17 April 2014

Academic Editor: Sunil Kumar Manna

Copyright © 2014 Miao Shen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Liver fibrosis is a common pathway leading to cirrhosis and a worldwide clinical issue. Astaxanthin is a red carotenoid pigment with antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of astaxanthin on liver fibrosis and its potential protective mechanisms. Liver fibrosis was induced in a mouse model using CCL4 (intraperitoneal injection, three times a week for 8 weeks), and astaxanthin was administered everyday at three doses (20, 40, and 80 mg/kg). Pathological results indicated that astaxanthin significantly improved the pathological lesions of liver fibrosis. The levels of alanine aminotransferase aspartate aminotransferase and hydroxyproline were also significantly decreased by astaxanthin. The same results were confirmed in bile duct liagtion, (BDL) model. In addition, astaxanthin inhibited hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) activation and formation of extracellular matrix (ECM) by decreasing the expression of NF-B and TGF-1 and maintaining the balance between MMP2 and TIMP1. In addition, astaxanthin reduced energy production in HSCs by downregulating the level of autophagy. These results were simultaneously confirmed in vivo and in vitro. In conclusion, our study showed that 80 mg/kg astaxanthin had a significant protective effect on liver fibrosis by suppressing multiple profibrogenic factors.