Cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and aortic valve sclerosis involve inflammatory reactions triggered by various stimuli, causing increased oxidative stress. This increased oxidative stress causes damage to the heart cells, with subsequent cell apoptosis or calcification. Currently, heart valve damage or heart valve diseases are treated by drugs or surgery. Natural antioxidant products are being investigated in related research, such as fucoxanthin (Fx), which is a marine carotenoid extracted from seaweed, with strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties. This study aimed to explore the protective effect of Fx on heart valves under high oxidative stress, as well as the underlying mechanism of action. Rat heart valve interstitial cells under H2O2-induced oxidative stress were treated with Fx. Fx improved cell survival and reduced oxidative stress-induced DNA damage, which was assessed by cell viability analysis and staining with propidium iodide. Alizarin Red-S analysis indicated that Fx has a protective effect against calcification. Furthermore, Western blotting revealed that Fx abrogates oxidative stress-induced apoptosis via reducing the expression of apoptosis-related proteins as well as modulate Akt/ERK-related protein expression. Notably, in vivo experiments using 26 dogs treated with 60 mg/kg of Fx in combination with medical treatment for 0.5 to 2 years showed significant recovery in their echocardiographic parameters. Collectively, these in vitro and in vivo results highlight the potential of Fx to protect heart valve cells from high oxidative stress-induced damage.
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