The effects of the carotenoids beta-carotene and astaxanthin on the peroxidation of liposomes induced by ADP and Fe(2+) were examined. Both compounds inhibited production of lipid peroxides, astaxanthin being about 2-fold more effective than beta-carotene. The difference in the modes of destruction of the conjugated polyene chain between beta-carotene and astaxanthin suggested that the conjugated polyene moiety and terminal ring moieties of the more potent astaxanthin trapped radicals in the membrane and both at the membrane surface and in the membrane, respectively, whereas only the conjugated polyene chain of beta-carotene was responsible for radical trapping near the membrane surface and in the interior of the membrane. The efficient antioxidant activity of astaxanthin is suggested to be due to the unique structure of the terminal ring moiety.
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