These findings could spur research around novel and effective treatment for gouty arthritis, a form of arthritis caused by hyperuricemia that causes significant pain.
Oxidative stress and inflammation have been reported to be related to the development of gouty arthritis, so anti-inflammatory drugs and uric acid-lowering medicines are widely used in its management.
However, these drugs may cause adverse side effects such as renal, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular complications.
Astaxanthin is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so this research conducted in China involved studying astaxanthin intake on relevant biomarkers, doing so through animal studies with rats and zebrafish, as well as a human clinical trial.
Findings were published in the Journal of Functional Foods.
For the human clinical study, 60 participants diagnosed with acute gout arthritis were recruited. They were randomly divided into the intervention and drug control group.
The drug control group took celecoxib orally (200 mg/d). The intervention group took celecoxib (100 mg/d) and astaxanthin powder (8 mg/d) orally. The trial lasted seven days.
Follow-up visits were scheduled on days one, three and seven, with examinations on biomarkers performed on days one and seven.
The biomarkers analysed include immunity indexes such as C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, as well as uric acid levels.
The results showed astaxanthin combined with celecoxib worked better than celecoxib alone in reducing uric acid levels and erythrocyte sedimentation rate.
For C-reactive protein, the effect between both groups was comparable.
These results suggest astaxanthin has potential as a dietary supplement to assist in the treatment of gouty arthritis.
The results of the animal experiments showed that in terms of animal serological indicators, astaxanthin has the same effect as colchicine in treating gouty arthritis.
Astaxanthin also demonstrated a significant inhibitory effect on cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) activity.in zebrafish, thus suggesting that astaxanthin might play a role in the treatment of gouty arthritis through exhibiting anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and suppressing COX-2.
When the body is stimulated by inflammation, it produces a large amount of COX-2, which can lead to tissue damage.
Although this study was limited by its low animal sample size and short duration for the human clinical trial, researchers said: “Our findings provide a novel complementary therapy that is clinically valuable and thus lead to a theoretical basis for potential use of astaxanthin as a dietary supplement both for the prevention and the treatment of gouty arthritis.”
The research in this study was not deep enough to fully elucidate the mode of action of astaxanthin in the treatment of gouty arthritis, so “In-depth investigations and further extensive studies are needed in the future to validate the application of astaxanthin in patients affected with gouty arthritis.”
Source: Journal of Functional Foods
“Astaxanthin intake alleviates gouty arthritis in patients and rats by modulating the levels of various inflammatory markers”
Authors: Lin Zhang, et al.