Academic article

Astaxanthin and its metabolites idoxanthin and crustaxanthin in flesh, skin, and gonads of sexually immature and maturing Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus (L.))

Bjerkeng, Bjørn; Hatlen, Bjarne; Jobling, Malcolm

Publication details

Journal: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part B: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, vol. 125, p. 395–404, 2000

Publisher: Elsevier

Issue: 3

International Standard Numbers:
Printed: 1096-4959
Electronic: 1879-1107

Open Access: none


Carotenoid compositions of the flesh, skin, and ovaries were determined in sexually maturing and immature Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) fed diets supplemented with astaxanthin (optical isomer ratio (3S,3'S):(3R,3'S; meso):(3R,3'R); 1:2:1). Astaxanthin comprised 64-79% of the flesh carotenoids, and the 3',4'-cis and 3',4'-trans glycolic isomers of idoxanthin, present in a 1:1 ratio, represented 20-35%. The flesh of the sexually maturing charr contained relatively more idoxanthin than that of sexually immature fish (20 vs 35% of total carotenoids), possibly being indicative of a higher metabolic turnover of astaxanthin in the latter. The relative proportions of flesh carotenoids were unaffected by sex. The relative carotenoid composition of ovaries was similar in sexually maturing and immature females. The 3',4'-cis and 3',4'-trans glycolic isomers of idoxanthin (ratio 0.7:1) were the major carotenoids (56% of total), followed by crustaxanthin (20%), and astaxanthin comprised less than 5% of ovarian carotenoids. Three glycolic isomers of crustaxanthin were detected (3,4,3',4'-di-cis-:3,4-cis-3',4'-trans-:3,4,3'4'-di-trans-glycolic isomer ratio 2.6:3.1:1) in the ovaries. Sex and maturity status had no apparent effect on the relative composition of skin carotenoids. The Skin carotenoids consisted mainly of diesters (82-87% of total carotenoids) and monoesters (7-13% of total carotenoids). Saponification revealed that astaxanthin comprised 85%, and idoxanthin 10% of total carotenoids, and minor amounts of tunaxanthin-, lutein-, and zeaxanthin-like metabolites were also present. Maturity status seems to be more important than sex in determining the relative carotenoid composition of the tissues of Arctic charr, with astaxanthin and its metabolites being selectively accumulated in different tissues. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.