Astaxanthin attenuates cigarette smoke-induced small airway remodeling via the AKT1 signaling pathway


Respir Res. 2024 Mar 30;25(1):148. doi: 10.1186/s12931-024-02768-4.


BACKGROUND: Astaxanthin (AXT) is a keto-carotenoid with a variety of biological functions, including antioxidant and antifibrotic effects. Small airway remodeling is the main pathology of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and is caused by epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and fibroblast differentiation and proliferation. Effective therapies are still lacking. This study aimed to investigate the role of AXT in small airway remodeling in COPD and its underlying mechanisms.

METHODS: First, the model of COPD mice was established by cigarette smoke (CS) exposure combined with intraperitoneal injection of cigarette smoke extract (CSE). The effects of AXT on the morphology of CS combined with CSE -induced emphysema, EMT, and small airway remodeling by using Hematoxylin-eosin (H&E) staining, immunohistochemical staining, and western blot. In addition, in vitro experiments, the effects of AXT on CSE induced-EMT and fibroblast function were further explored. Next, to explore the specific mechanisms underlying the protective effects of AXT in COPD, potential targets of AXT in COPD were analyzed using network pharmacology. Finally, the possible mechanism was verified through molecular docking and in vitro experiments.

RESULTS: AXT alleviated pulmonary emphysema, EMT, and small airway remodeling in a CS combined with CSE -induced mouse model. In addition, AXT inhibited the EMT process in airway cells and the differentiation and proliferation of fibroblasts. Mechanistically, AXT inhibited myofibroblast activation by directly binding to and suppressing the phosphorylation of AKT1. Therefore, our results show that AXT protects against small airway remodeling by inhibiting AKT1.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study identified and illustrated a new food function of AXT, indicating that AXT could be used in the therapy of COPD-induced small airway remodeling.

PMID:38555458 | PMC:PMC10981815 | DOI:10.1186/s12931-024-02768-4