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E/Z isomerization of astaxanthin and its monoesters in vitro under the exposure to light or heat and in overilluminated Haematococcus pluvialis cells

Yauhen V. Viazau, Ruslan G. Goncharik, Irina S. Kulikova, Evgeny A. Kulikov, Raif G. Vasilov, Alla A. Selishcheva
Published: 1 July 2021

Abstract: Thermo- and photoisomerization of astaxanthin was investigated in a model system (solutions in methanol and chloroform), and the dynamics of astaxanthin isomers and esters content was analyzed in Haematococcus pluvialis green algal cells exposed to factors inducing astaxanthin accumulation. In both systems, the astaxanthin isomerization process seems to be defined by a) the action of light (or heat), and b) the dielectric constant of the surrounding medium. Upon heating, the accumulation of Z-isomers occurred in a model system during the entire incubation period. For the first 5 h of illumination, both Z-isomers accumulated in the solutions up to 5%, and then their content decreased. The accumulated amount of the Z-isomers in the cells of H. pluvialis was found to reach 42% of the total content of astaxanthin initially, and then it decreased during the experiment. The results lead to a conclusion that both cultivation of H. pluvialis culture in specific conditions and heat treatment of the resulting extracts from it might be efficient for obtaining large amounts of economically useful astaxanthin Z-isomer.
Keywords: Astaxanthin / Haematococcus pluvialis / E/Z isomerization / HPLC

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