Pigmentation, carotenoids, lipid peroxides and lipid composition of skin of red porgy (Pagrus pagrus) fed diets supplemented with different astaxanthin sources

Noemí Tejera, Juana Rosa Cejas, Covadonga Rodríguez, Bjorn Bjerkeng, Salvador Jerez, Ana Bolaños, Antonio Lorenzo

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A feeding experiment was carried out to determine the efficiency of different commercial sources, chemical forms and levels, of dietary astaxanthin, to appropriately pigment the red porgy (Pagrus pagrus) skin. According to this, total carotenoid content, profiles and chemical forms present in the skin were determined. In order to establish the potential for antioxidant protecting role of astaxanthin supplemented diets, peroxide levels and lipid composition of skin were also determined.

Red porgy alevins were fed six dietary treatments in triplicate; a basal diet (B) without carotenoids; two diets (N25 and N50) formulated to supply either 25 or 50 mg kg(-1) of an esterified source of astaxanthin (Haematococcus pluvialis, NatuRose (TM)); two diets (CP25 and CP50) with either 25 or 50 mg kg(-1) of unesterified astaxanthin (Carophyll (R) Pink); and a positive control diet (B + S) proved as a successful pigmenting-diet in previous experiences (B+S, 88% basal diet: 12% frozen shrimp) [Cejas, J., Almansa, E., Tejera, N., Jerez, S., Bolanos, A., Lorenzo, A., 2003. Effect of dietary supplementation with shrimp on skin pigmentation and lipid composition of red porgy (P. pagrus) alevins. Aquaculture 218, 457-469].

All fish fed carotenoid supplemented diets displayed a pink-coloured skin after 4 months of feeding in contrast to the greyish appearance displayed by fish fed the basal diet not supplemented with carotenoids (B). Furthermore, astaxanthin diesters were the major carotenoid in the skin of pink fish. A second carotenoid, tentatively identified as tunaxanthin diester, was also detected. The best results in terms of skin natural reddish hue, total carotenoid and astaxanthin contents were found by using the esterified forms of dietary astaxanthin (N25, N50 and B+S). Interestingly, the lowest levels of lipid peroxides were found in the fish fed these three treatments. However, no effect of treatment on lipid composition was found. In conclusion, red porgy alevins are able to efficiently utilise dietary natural or synthetic astaxanthin, and deposit this pigment in its esterified form to acquire an acceptable pink-coloured skin compared to that of the wild fish. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-230
Number of pages13
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2007


  • Red porgy
  • Alevins
  • Skin
  • Pigmentation
  • Carotenoids
  • Astaxanthin
  • Tunaxanthin
  • Lipid peroxides
  • Lipid composition

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