Anti-Apoptotic Effects of Carotenoids in Neurodegeneration

Han-A Park, Mary Margaret Hayden, Sydni Bannerman, Joseph Jansen, Kristi M Crowe-White
Molecules: a Journal of Synthetic Chemistry and Natural Product Chemistry 2020 July 29, 25 (15)
Apoptosis, programmed cell death type I, is a critical part of neurodegeneration in cerebral ischemia, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's disease. Apoptosis begins with activation of pro-death proteins Bax and Bak, release of cytochrome c and activation of caspases, loss of membrane integrity of intracellular organelles, and ultimately cell death. Approaches that block apoptotic pathways may prevent or delay neurodegenerative processes. Carotenoids are a group of pigments found in fruits, vegetables, and seaweeds that possess antioxidant properties. Over the last several decades, an increasing number of studies have demonstrated a protective role of carotenoids in neurodegenerative disease. In this review, we describe functions of commonly consumed carotenoids including lycopene, β-carotene, lutein, astaxanthin, and fucoxanthin and their roles in neurodegenerative disease models. We also discuss the underlying cellular mechanisms of carotenoid-mediated neuroprotection, including their antioxidant properties, role as signaling molecules, and as gene regulators that alleviate apoptosis-associated brain cell death.

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