AstaReal builds IP for Astaxanthin to support ‘next-gen’ beneficial gut bacteria

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Madeleine_Steinbach / Getty Images
© Madeleine_Steinbach / Getty Images

Related tags Akkermansia muciniphila Astaxanthin Patent Intellectual property

The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted a patent covering the use of astaxanthin to boost levels of Akkermansia muciniphila.

Patent number 10,894,022​ is titled, “Method for increasing Akkermansia in intestinal bacterial flora by ingesting astaxanthin”​ and was filed jointly by Japan’s Fuji Chemical Industries Co., Ltd. (parent company of Washington State-based astaxanthin supplier AstaReal) and Kyoto Prefectural Public University Corporation.

The patent states that the industrial applicability is: “The present invention is effective for increasing bacteria belonging to the genus Akkermansia in an intestinal bacterial flora and astaxanthin can be ingested in various methods. Increase of the bacteria (muciniphila) belonging to the genus Akkermansia in the intestinal bacterial flora can allow for, for example, ameliorating a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ameliorating or preventing obesity. Therefore, the present invention is also useful in ingestion as a pharmaceutical composition.”


Akkermansia muciniphila​ has attracted growing interest for its health-promoting effects. In rodents, treatment with A. muciniphila​ reduces obesity and related disorders, such as glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and gut permeability.

The species Akkermansia muciniphila​ makes up 3-5% of gut microbiome in healthy individuals, and its abundance in the intestinal mucus layer is inversely correlated with BMI, type 1 diabetes, and bowel disease in humans. Akkermansia​ is known to produce nutrients that feed intestinal cells responsible for producing the intestinal mucus layer, helping to maintain healthy intestinal barrier function, control gut permeability, and control low grade inflammation in the gut.

According to the patent, AstaReal Astaxanthin increased Akkermansia​ in intestinal flora nearly 12 times compared to control after four weeks in a pre-clinical study. This suggests that AstaReal Astaxanthin can help modulate intestinal flora to promote gut health.

“AstaReal continues to be on the leading edge of science, demonstrating new applications for AstaReal Astaxanthin in the area of the gut microbiome,” ​said Arun Nair, CEO of AstaReal USA Inc.. “AstaReal maintains its position of leadership in the natural astaxanthin industry and market, building on a 30+ year career of proven success and positive impacts on human health. We look forward to working with our partners who can benefit from this most recently secured patent.”

The patent addresses applications of AstaReal Astaxanthin in supplements, and functional foods and beverages intended to promote gut health, suppress appetite or promote weight loss in obese individuals.

From the gut to the skin 

Karen Hecht, PhD, Scientific Affairs Manager, AstaReal, Inc. told NutraIngredients-USA that there is already literature showing that carotenoids and antioxidants in general can modulate the gut microbiome. "What's new here is the specifics of how astaxanthin might do this as a prebiotic to help promote a healthy gut flora. There are two areas where we might see this being leveraged in the market: beauty and healthy aging,"​ said Dr Hecht. 

"In the beauty-from-within category, Nutraingredients has already highlighted the importance of innovations for gut-skin axis support, and astaxanthin is already utilized for gut-skin support on the market," ​she said. "To date we have discussed how astaxanthin's antioxidant properties help promote hydration, elasticity, and smoothness in skin. Now we can look forward to future discussions and studies about how astaxanthin might support "skin-friendly" gut bacteria as well.

"AstaReal has focused on the healthy aging benefits of natural astaxanthin for over 30 years. Most recently with the University of WA study related to maintaining healthy muscle function in the elderly. Today the effects of astaxanthin on the gut microbiome could be leveraged in functional foods and beverages aimed at supporting the nutritional needs of older individuals to facilitate nutrient absorption, and to promote immune health and muscle quality."

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