Astaxanthin protects mesenchymal stem cells from oxidative stress by direct scavenging of free radicals and modulation of cell signaling.
Chem Biol Interact. 2020 Nov 16:109324. Epub 2020 Nov 16. PMID: 33212048
Recent evidence has shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) play vital roles in cell therapies of ischemia/hypoxia damaged tissues. However, after transplantation, they might undergo apoptosis due to oxidative stress. Thus, recent strategies have developed to support stem cells in harsh conditions, including pre-treatment with antioxidants. Of the various antioxidants, in this study, astaxanthin (ATX) was used to protect adipose-derived MSCs (ADMSCs) against oxidative stress. The MSCs were exposed to different doses of hydrogen peroxide, and then the expression of key genes involved in the redox signaling pathway was studied, including Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), and NADPH quinine oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1). The balance of intracellular ROS was detected with the H2DCFDA molecular probe. Additionally, for the detection of apoptosis and protective effect of ATX, the DAPI/Phallacidin and Annexin V cell staining were performed. The results of cellular studies showed that ATX reduced HO-induced cell apoptosis and oxidative stress. Furthermore, after the induction of oxidative stress, the cells' native antioxidants including HO-1 and NQO1 were overexpressed but they were modulated with ATX treatments (p˂0.023). Based on our findings, ATX could increase the expression of Nrf2 as a key transcription factor of antioxidant enzymes (p˂0.05). This finding supports the notion that ATX can act as an attractive antioxidant candidate for the pre-treatment of MSCs before cell therapy to enhance the viability of stem cells after transplantation in harsh conditions and result in an improved cell therapy output.