Astaxanthin attenuates the increase in mitochondrial respiration during the activation of hepatic stellate cells.
J Nutr Biochem. 2019 Sep ;71:82-89. Epub 2019 Jun 20. PMID: 31302374
Upon liver injury, quiescent hepatic stellate cells (qHSCs) transdifferentiate to myofibroblast-like activated HSCs (aHSCs), which are primarily responsible for the accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins during the development of liver fibrosis. Therefore, aHSCs may exhibit different energy metabolism from that of qHSCs to meet their high energy demand. We previously demonstrated that astaxanthin (ASTX), a xanthophyll carotenoid, prevents the activation of HSCs. The objective of this study was to determine if ASTX can exert its antifibrogenic effect by attenuating any changes in energy metabolism during HSC activation. To characterize the energy metabolism of qHSCs and aHSCs, mouse primary HSCs were cultured on uncoated plastic dishes for 7 days for spontaneous activation in the presence or absence of 25μM ASTX. qHSCs (1 day after isolation) and aHSCs treated with or without ASTX for 7 days were used to determine parameters related to mitochondrial respiration using a Seahorse XFe24 Extracellular Flux analyzer. aHSCs had significantly higher basal respiration, maximal respiration, ATP production,spare respiratory capacity and proton leak than those of qHSCs. However, ASTX prevented most of the changes occurring during HSC activation and improved mitochondrial cristae structure with decreased cristae junction width, lumen width and the area in primary mouse aHSCs. Furthermore, qHSCs isolatedfrom ASTX-fed mice had lower mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis than control qHSCs. Our findings suggest that ASTX may exert its antifibrogenic effect by attenuating the changes in energy metabolism during HSC activation.