Effects of astaxanthin supplementation and electrical stimulation on muscle atrophy and decreased oxidative capacity in soleus muscle during hindlimb unloading in rats

  • Miho Kanazashi
  • Masayuki Tanaka
  • Ryosuke Nakanishi
  • Noriaki Maeshige
  • Hidemi FujinoEmail author
Original Paper


The effects of a combination of the antioxidant astaxanthin (AX) and electrical stimulation (ES) on muscle mass and mitochondrial oxidative capacity were investigated in the soleus muscle of hindlimb unloaded rats. Five groups of male Sprague-Dawley rats were used; control, 1-week hindlimb unloading (HU), HU + AX, HU + ES, and HU + AX + ES. Respective rats in the AX groups received 50-mg/kg AX twice daily during HU. Calf muscles of rats in the ES groups were electrically stimulated for 240 s/day during HU. One-week HU decreased muscle mass along with decreased FoxO3a phosphorylation and increased ubiquitinated proteins expressions, decreased oxidative enzymatic activity accompanied with decline in PGC-1α protein expression, and increased reactive oxygen species production. However, the combination treatment could synergistically attenuate/suppress all HU-related changes, suggesting protective effects on muscle atrophy and decreased muscle oxidative capacity due to chronic neuromuscular inactivity.


Skeletal muscle Atrophy Oxidative stress Electrical stimulation Astaxanthin 



This study was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (15K16516 and 17K18028) from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Author contribution

MK and HF conceived and designed the experiments. MK, MT, and RN performed the experiments. MK, MT and RN analyzed the data. MK, MT, NM, and HF contributed by providing regents, materials and analysis tools. MK, MT, NM, and HF interpreted the data and wrote the paper. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© The Physiological Society of Japan and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miho Kanazashi
    • 1
  • Masayuki Tanaka
    • 2
  • Ryosuke Nakanishi
    • 3
  • Noriaki Maeshige
    • 4
  • Hidemi Fujino
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Health and WelfarePrefectural University of HiroshimaMihara-shiJapan
  2. 2.Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Human SciencesOsaka University of Human SciencesSettsu-shiJapan
  3. 3.Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of RehabilitationKobe International UniversityKobe-shiJapan
  4. 4.Department of Rehabilitation ScienceKobe University Graduate School of Health SciencesKobe-shiJapan

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