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Record Information
StatusDetected and Quantified
Creation Date2006-05-22 15:12:37 UTC
Update Date2021-09-07 19:37:14 UTC
Secondary Accession Numbers
  • HMDB03154
Metabolite Identification
Common NameCanthaxanthin
DescriptionCanthaxanthin, also known as Cantaxanthin, Cantaxanthine, or Canthaxanthine is a keto-carotenoid, a pigment widely distributed in nature. Carotenoids belong to a larger class of phytochemicals known as terpenoids. Canthaxanin is also classified as a xanthophyll. Xanthophylls are yellow pigments and form one of two major divisions of the carotenoid group; the other division is formed by the carotenes. Both are carotenoids. Xanthophylls and carotenes are similar in structure, but xanthophylls contain oxygen atoms while carotenes are purely hydrocarbons, which do not contain oxygen. Their content of oxygen causes xanthophylls to be more polar (in molecular structure) than carotenes and causes their separation from carotenes in many types of chromatography. (Carotenes are usually more orange in color than xanthophylls. Canthaxanthin is naturally found in bacteria, algae and some fungi. Canthaxanthin is associated with E number E161g and is approved for use as a food coloring agent in different countries, including the United States and the EU. Canthaxanthin is used as poultry feed additive to yield red color in skin and yolks. The European Union permits the use of canthaxanthin in feedstuff at a maximum content of 25 mg/kg of final feedstuff while the United States allows the use of this pigment in broiler chicken and salmonid fish feeds. Canthoxanthin was first isolated in edible chanterelle mushroom (Cantharellus cinnabarinus), from which it derived its name. It has also been found in green algae, bacteria, archea (a halophilic archaeon called Haloferax alexandrines), fungi and bioaccumulates in tissues and egg yolk from wild birds and at low levels in crustaceans and fish such as carp, golden grey mullet, and seabream. Canthaxanthin is not found in wild Atlantic Salmon, but is a minor carotenoid in Pacific Salmon. Canthaxanthin is used in farm-raised trout to give a red/orange color to their flesh similar to wild trout. Canthaxanthin has been used as a food additive for egg yolk, in cosmetics and as a pigmenting agent for human skin applications. It has also been used as a feed additive in fish and crustacean farms. Canthaxanthin is a potent lipid-soluble antioxidant (PMID: 2505240 ). Canthaxanthin increases resistance to lipid peroxidation primarily by enhancing membrane alpha-tocopherol levels and secondarily by providing weak direct antioxidant activity. Canthaxanthin biosynthesis in bacteria and algae proceeds from beta-carotene via the action of an enzyme known as a beta-carotene ketolase, that is able to add a carbonyl group to carbon 4 and 4' of the beta carotene molecule.
Carophyll redChEBI
e 161gChEBI
FOOD Orange 8ChEBI
L-Orange 7HMDB
Roxanthin red 10HMDB
Chemical FormulaC40H52O2
Average Molecular Weight564.854
Monoisotopic Molecular Weight564.396730914
IUPAC Name2,4,4-trimethyl-3-[(1E,3E,5E,7E,9E,11E,13E,15E,17E)-3,7,12,16-tetramethyl-18-(2,6,6-trimethyl-3-oxocyclohex-1-en-1-yl)octadeca-1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17-nonaen-1-yl]cyclohex-2-en-1-one
Traditional Namecanthaxanthin
CAS Registry Number514-78-3
InChI Identifier
Chemical Taxonomy
Description Belongs to the class of organic compounds known as xanthophylls. These are carotenoids containing an oxygenated carotene backbone. Carotenes are characterized by the presence of two end-groups (mostly cyclohexene rings, but also cyclopentene rings or acyclic groups) linked by a long branched alkyl chain. Carotenes belonging form a subgroup of the carotenoids family. Xanthophylls arise by oxygenation of the carotene backbone.
KingdomOrganic compounds
Super ClassLipids and lipid-like molecules
ClassPrenol lipids
Sub ClassTetraterpenoids
Direct ParentXanthophylls
Alternative Parents
  • Xanthophyll
  • Cyclohexenone
  • Cyclic ketone
  • Ketone
  • Organic oxygen compound
  • Organic oxide
  • Hydrocarbon derivative
  • Organooxygen compound
  • Carbonyl group
  • Aliphatic homomonocyclic compound
Molecular FrameworkAliphatic homomonocyclic compounds
External Descriptors

Route of exposure:


Biological location:


Naturally occurring process:


Biological role:

Industrial application:

Physical Properties
Experimental Molecular Properties
Melting PointNot AvailableNot Available
Boiling PointNot AvailableNot Available
Water SolubilityNot AvailableNot Available
LogPNot AvailableNot Available
Predicted Molecular Properties
Water Solubility0.00046 g/LALOGPS
pKa (Strongest Acidic)19.59ChemAxon
pKa (Strongest Basic)-4.5ChemAxon
Physiological Charge0ChemAxon
Hydrogen Acceptor Count2ChemAxon
Hydrogen Donor Count0ChemAxon
Polar Surface Area34.14 ŲChemAxon
Rotatable Bond Count10ChemAxon
Refractivity193 m³·mol⁻¹ChemAxon
Polarizability72.16 ųChemAxon
Number of Rings2ChemAxon
Rule of FiveNoChemAxon
Ghose FilterNoChemAxon
Veber's RuleYesChemAxon
MDDR-like RuleNoChemAxon
Predicted Spectral Properties

Collision Cross Sections

NameAdductTypeData SourceValueReference

Retention Indices


Not Available


Not Available


Spectrum TypeDescriptionSplash KeyDeposition DateView
Predicted GC-MSPredicted GC-MS Spectrum - GC-MS (Non-derivatized) - 70eV, Positivesplash10-0002-1213290000-9719da4262f6293664402017-09-01View Spectrum


Spectrum TypeDescriptionSplash KeyDeposition DateView
LC-MS/MSLC-MS/MS Spectrum - FAB-EBEB (JMS-HX/HX 110A, JEOL) , Positivesplash10-016u-2920000000-bf9cf6df0a7dd95006af2012-08-31View Spectrum
LC-MS/MSLC-MS/MS Spectrum - EI-EBEB (JMS-HX/HX 110A, JEOL) , Positivesplash10-03xr-1951160000-000e09c523a6561e27072012-08-31View Spectrum
LC-MS/MSLC-MS/MS Spectrum - Linear Ion Trap , positivesplash10-0ika-0296420000-b19acaaf1afb00cf9fc12017-09-14View Spectrum
LC-MS/MSLC-MS/MS Spectrum - Linear Ion Trap , positivesplash10-0002-0001910000-a35bcbebdd90994a2f3d2017-09-14View Spectrum
LC-MS/MSLC-MS/MS Spectrum - Linear Ion Trap , positivesplash10-01pc-0025970000-423e791499171562736f2017-09-14View Spectrum
LC-MS/MSLC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, Positivesplash10-001i-0920000000-639f9f3228c4c2396f902021-09-20View Spectrum
LC-MS/MSLC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, Positivesplash10-0ue9-0892000000-742de39d976dca6ca15d2021-09-20View Spectrum
LC-MS/MSLC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, Positivesplash10-0gb9-0492060000-fef850b3839e240973422021-09-20View Spectrum
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, Positivesplash10-014i-0322390000-eee87729039394ef22422017-06-28View Spectrum
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, Positivesplash10-03dj-0596730000-20a001319fad4fff32bf2017-06-28View Spectrum
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, Positivesplash10-0hft-1598720000-1c73c717692c059716802017-06-28View Spectrum
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, Negativesplash10-03di-0000090000-3323cd427776bc3215332017-06-28View Spectrum
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, Negativesplash10-03di-0000090000-3a19aa461bcf5ed2f3a52017-06-28View Spectrum
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, Negativesplash10-0002-1454390000-1441e3b85e17841ccd5b2017-06-28View Spectrum
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, Negativesplash10-03di-0001090000-3588cb304de167acfcd72021-09-07View Spectrum
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, Negativesplash10-08fr-0215290000-5a34259c64d9108eece62021-09-07View Spectrum
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, Negativesplash10-0002-0229020000-8b0c64a50d1fea3655ef2021-09-07View Spectrum


Spectrum TypeDescriptionDeposition DateView
1D NMR1H NMR Spectrum (1D, 600 MHz, H2O, experimental)2012-12-05View Spectrum
2D NMR[1H, 13C] NMR Spectrum (2D, 600 MHz, CDCl3, predicted)2012-12-05View Spectrum
Biological Properties
Cellular Locations
  • Extracellular
  • Membrane (predicted from logP)
Biospecimen Locations
  • Blood
Tissue Locations
  • Epidermis
Normal Concentrations
BloodDetected and Quantified0.07 +/- 0.06 uMAdult (>18 years old)BothNormal details
BloodDetected and Quantified0.00900 +/- 0.0150 uMAdult (>18 years old)FemaleNormal details
BloodDetected and Quantified0.0100 +/- 0.0130 uMAdult (>18 years old)MaleNormal details
Abnormal Concentrations
Not Available
Associated Disorders and Diseases
Disease ReferencesNone
Associated OMIM IDsNone
DrugBank IDNot Available
Phenol Explorer Compound IDNot Available
FooDB IDFDB015890
KNApSAcK IDC00000922
Chemspider ID4444639
KEGG Compound IDC08583
BioCyc IDNot Available
BiGG IDNot Available
Wikipedia LinkCanthaxanthin
PubChem Compound5281227
PDB IDNot Available
ChEBI ID3362
Food Biomarker OntologyNot Available
VMH IDNot Available
MarkerDB IDNot Available
Synthesis ReferenceNot Available
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)Download (PDF)
General References
  1. Paetau I, Chen H, Goh NM, White WS: Interactions in the postprandial appearance of beta-carotene and canthaxanthin in plasma triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Nov;66(5):1133-43. [PubMed:9356530 ]
  2. Meyer JC, Grundmann HP, Seeger B, Schnyder UW: Plasma concentrations of beta-carotene and canthaxanthin during and after stopping intake of a combined preparation. Dermatologica. 1985;171(2):76-81. [PubMed:3930305 ]
  3. Rollman O, Vahlquist A: Psoriasis and vitamin A. Plasma transport and skin content of retinol, dehydroretinol and carotenoids in adult patients versus healthy controls. Arch Dermatol Res. 1985;278(1):17-24. [PubMed:4096526 ]
  4. Bluhm R, Branch R, Johnston P, Stein R: Aplastic anemia associated with canthaxanthin ingested for 'tanning' purposes. JAMA. 1990 Sep 5;264(9):1141-2. [PubMed:2117075 ]
  5. Mayne ST, Parker RS: Antioxidant activity of dietary canthaxanthin. Nutr Cancer. 1989;12(3):225-36. doi: 10.1080/01635588909514022. [PubMed:2505240 ]