The Protective Effect of Astaxanthin on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Mice

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Astaxanthin is a strong antioxidant with the ability of reducing the markers of inflammation. To explore the protective effect of astaxanthin on maternal ethanol induced embryonic deficiency, and to investigate the underlying mechanisms, we detected the morphology, expression of neural marker genes, oxidative stress indexes, and inflammatory factors in mice model of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder with or without astaxanthin pretreatment. Our results showed that astaxanthin blocked maternal ethanol induced retardation of embryonic growth, and the down-regulation of neural marker genes, Otx1 and Sox2. Moreover, astaxanthin also reversed the increases of malondialdehyde (MDA), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and the decrease of glutathione peroxidase (GPx) in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. In addition, maternal ethanol induced up-regulation of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), and the down-streaming myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88), NF-κB, TNF-α, and IL-1β in embryos, and this was inhibited by astaxanthin pretreatment. These results demonstrated a protective effect of astaxanthin on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and suggested that oxidative stress and TLR4 signaling associated inflammatory reaction are involved in this process.