Background: An imbalance between pro-oxidants and antioxidants determines the level of
oxidative stress which is implicated in the etiopathogenesis of various neuropsychiatric disorders including
depression. Therefore, treatment with antioxidants could potentially improve the balance between
pro-oxidants and antioxidants.
Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the ability of astaxanthin, a potential antioxidant,
to reduce reserpine-induced depression in BALB/c mice (Mus musculus).
Methods: On the behavioral level, antidepressant property of astaxanthin (50 mg/kg, orally) on reserpine (2
mg/kg, subcutaneously) induced depressed mice was evaluated by Forced Swim Test (FST) and Tail Suspension
Test (TST). In the biochemical level, the ability of astaxanthin to mitigate reserpine-induced
oxidative stress was evaluated by the measurement of Malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO) in
brain, liver and plasma samples. On the other hand, the efficiency of astaxanthin to replenish glutathione
depletion and antioxidant enzyme activity augmentation in the same samples were also investigated.
Results: Astaxanthin was able to lower reserpine induced immobility time significantly (p<0.05) in FST
and TST. Mice treated with astaxanthin showed significantly (p<0.05) low level of oxidative stress
markers such as Malondialdehyde (MDA), Nitric Oxide (NO). Consistently, the level of reduced Glutathione
(GSH), and the activity of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and catalase were augmented due to
the oral administration of astaxanthin.
Conclusion: This study suggests that astaxanthin reduces reserpine-induced oxidative stress and therefore
might be effective in treating oxidative stress associated depression.