The involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the pathophysiology of Sjögren's syndrome (SS), an autoimmune disorder, and irradiation-induced impairments in salivary secretion has been reported. Meanwhile, the strong antioxidant astaxanthin (Ast) has been suggested to have therapeutic effects on various diseases. In the present study, we examined the ROS scavenging capacity of Ast using a human salivary gland epithelial cell line (HSY) and investigated the effects of Ast on salivary secretion in a mouse model of irradiation-induced salivary gland dysfunction. Furthermore, we performed a clinical study of Ast in six SS patients and six normal individuals, quantifying the volume of saliva secretion and the level of oxidative stress markers in the saliva. Ast partially suppressed hydrogen peroxide-induced ROS in HSY cells. The mouse model demonstrated that the preadministration of Ast resulted in the suppression of irradiation-induced hyposalivation. Furthermore, the administration of Ast appeared to increase salivary output in both the SS and normal groups. The level of oxidative stress marker, hexanoyl-lysine, in the saliva was reduced after Ast intake. These results suggest that Ast might act as an ROS scavenger, providing benefits to SS patients with impaired salivary secretion.
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