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Production of natural astaxanthin from marine organisms

anti-inflammatoryAntioxidantsastaxanthinCarotenoidssea urchin


The production of astaxanthin from natural sources is important in biotechnology for food, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical applications but it is an expensive process with a not very high yield. Therefore, astaxanthin is often produced with chemical synthesis. The invention describes a sea urchin farming method and defines a specific food composition to maximize the production of natural astaxanthin from sea urchins. Astaxanthin has a high antioxidant and neuroprotective power. Clinical studies have shown its benefits for human health (absorption by the body: 100% of the natural chemical form vs 50% of the synthetic form).

Technical features

This method is economically more advantageous but involves the use of petrochemicals, making astaxanthin unsuitable for human consumption. The invention describes a sea urchin breeding method that includes a purification step of astaxanthin from sea urchin eggs and defines a specific food composition that allows to maximize its production. The invention favours the production of natural astaxanthin in a simplified and more sustainable way than the existing technique. The patented food composition has been found to be particularly useful for improving the productivity of astaxanthin from sea urchins, because it allows to increase the production of gonads and prolong the reproductive capacity of sea urchins reared and fed exclusively with the described method (astaxanthin yield: 28 g/kg biomass of eggs). Pigment analysis was carried out on ethanolic egg extracts with the HPLC technique.

Possible Applications

  • Unconventional aquaculture of inedible species;
  • Nutraceutical / cosmeceutical: production of freeze-dried hedgehog eggs (also in the same aquaculture facility);
  • Pharmaceutical: extraction and purification of astaxanthin from fresh and freeze-dried products.


  • Production of natural astaxanthin in a simplified and sustainable way, compared to the existing technique;
  • Higher productivity of natural astaxanthin:
    • Increased production of gonads and prolongation of the reproductive capacity of the sea urchin;
    • Higher concentration of astaxanthin in eggs (+ 15 compared to wild samples).