Astaxanthin Inhibits Oxidative Stress-Induced Ku Protein Degradation and Apoptosis in Gastric Epithelial Cells

Jaeeun Lee, Joo Weon Lim, Hyeyoung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Oxidative stress induces DNA damage which can be repaired by DNA repair proteins, such as Ku70/80. Excess reactive oxygen species (ROS) stimulate the activation of caspase-3, which degrades Ku 70/80. Cells with decreased Ku protein levels undergo apoptosis. Astaxanthin exerts antioxidant activity by inducing the expression of catalase, an antioxidant enzyme, in gastric epithelial cells. Therefore, astaxanthin may inhibit oxidative stress-induced DNA damage by preventing Ku protein degradation and thereby suppressing apoptosis. Ku proteins can be degraded via ubiquitination and neddylation which adds ubiquitin-like protein to substrate proteins. We aimed to determine whether oxidative stress decreases Ku70/80 expression through the ubiquitin–proteasome pathway to induce apoptosis and whether astaxanthin inhibits oxidative stress-induced changes in gastric epithelial AGS cells. We induced oxidative stress caused by the treatment of β-D-glucose (G) and glucose oxidase (GO) in the cells. As a result, the G/GO treatment increased ROS levels, decreased nuclear Ku protein levels and Ku-DNA-binding activity, and induced the ubiquitination of Ku80. G/GO increased the DNA damage marker levels (γ-H2AX; DNA fragmentation) and apoptosis marker annexin V-positive cells and cell death. Astaxanthin inhibited G/GO-induced alterations, including Ku degradation in AGS cells. MLN4924, a neddylation inhibitor, and MG132, a proteasome inhibitor, suppressed G/GO-mediated DNA fragmentation and decreased cell viability. These results indicated that G/GO-induced oxidative stress causes Ku protein loss through the ubiquitin–proteasome pathway, resulting in DNA fragmentation and apoptotic cell death. Astaxanthin inhibited oxidative stress-mediated apoptosis via the reduction of ROS levels and inhibition of Ku protein degradation. In conclusion, dietary astaxanthin supplementation or astaxanthin-rich food consumption may be effective for preventing or delaying oxidative stress-mediated cell damage by suppressing Ku protein loss and apoptosis in gastric epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3939
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct

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© 2022 by the authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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