Astaxanthin promotes mitochondrial biogenesis and antioxidant capacity in chronic high-intensity interval training

Yang Wang, Xiaoping Chen, Julien S Baker, Gareth W Davison, Shujun Xu, Yingsong Zhou, Xiaoming Bao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose: Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species are required for exercise-induced molecular adaptations; however, excessive exercise may cause cellular oxidative distress. We postulate that astaxanthin (ASX) can neutralize oxidative distress and stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis in high-intensity exercise-trained mice. Methods: Six-week-old mice (n = 8/group) were treated with ASX (10 mg/kg BW) or placebo. Training groups participated in 30 min/day high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for 6 weeks. Gastrocnemius muscle was collected and assayed following the exercise training period. Results: Compared to the HIIT control mice, the ASX-treated HIIT mice reduced malonaldehyde levels and upregulated the expression of Nrf2 and FOXO3a. Meanwhile, the genes NQO1 and GCLC, modulated by Nrf2, and SOD2, regulated by FOXO3a, and GPx4, were transcriptionally upregulated in the ASX-treated HIIT group. Meanwhile, the expression of energy sensors, AMPK, SIRT1, and SIRT3, increased in the ASX-treated HIIT group compared to the HIIT control group. Additionally, PGC-1α, regulated by AMPK and SIRT1, was upregulated in the ASX-treated HIIT group. Further, the increased PGC-1α stimulated the transcript of NRF1 and Tfam and mitochondrial proteins IDH2 and ATP50. Finally, the ASX-treated HIIT mice had upregulations in the transcript level of mitochondrial fusion factors, including Mfn1, Mfn2, and OPA1. However, the protein level of AMPK, SIRT1, and FOXO3a, and the transcript level of Nrf2, NQO1, PGC-1α, NRF1, Mfn1, Mfn2, and OPA1 decreased in the HIIT control group compared to the sedentary control group. Conclusion: Supplementation with ASX can reduce oxidative stress and promote antioxidant capacity and mitochondrial biogenesis during strenuous HIIT exercise in mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number3
Early online date17 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 17 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was sponsored by the Ningbo Natural Science Foundation (No. 2019A610347 & No. 2022J250).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany.


  • Oxidative stress
  • Nrf2
  • Astaxanthin
  • RONS
  • PGC-1α
  • Mitochondrial biogenesis
  • High-intensity interval training


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