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      Markers of lutein and zeaxanthin status in two age groups of men and women: dietary intake, serum concentrations, lipid profile and macular pigment optical density


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          Background & aims

          Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in retina (macular pigment). Their nutritional status can be assessed using dietary or biochemical markers and both have been associated with macular pigment optical density. We proposed to assess dietary and status markers of lutein and zeaxanthin in a group of healthy Spanish volunteers, considering the potential influence of age, gender and serum lipids to investigate the predictors of the macular pigment optical density.


          Serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations, dietary intake and macular pigment optical density were determined in 108 healthy men and women (20–35 and 45–65 years), using high-performance liquid chromatography, 3-day food records and heterochromic flicker photometry, respectively. Mann–Whitney U-test, Spearman correlation coefficient and multivariate regression analysis were used for the statistical study.


          Serum concentrations and dietary intake of lutein plus zeaxanthin (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.001, respectively) were higher in older vs younger subjects, whereas macular pigment optical density was lower (p = 0.038). The highest correlation coefficients between intake and serum were for fruit and serum lutein (ρ = 0.452, p < 0.0001) and for fruit and lutein + zeaxanthin (ρ = 0.431, p < 0.0001) in the younger group. Macular pigment optical density correlated with serum xanthophylls (ρ = 0.223, p = 0.02) and fruit and vegetable intake (ρ = 0.350, p = 0.0002), showing highest correlations when lutein and zeaxanthin were expressed in relation to serum lipids in older subjects (ρ = 0.262, p = 0.006). Multivariate regression analysis identified age and serum lutein as major predictors of macular pigment optical density (total sample), and a coefficient of determination of 29.7% for the model including lutein + zeaxathin/cholesterol + triglycerides, sex and fruit + vegetables in the older group.


          The establishment of normal/reference ranges for serum lutein and zeaxanthin should consider age ranges and be expressed in relation to lipid concentrations, at least in subjects over 45 years, as this could influence macular pigment optical density. The macular pigment optical density showed age-specific correlations with lutein plus zeaxanthin expressed in relation to serum lipid concentrations as well as with the fruit and vegetable intake.

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          Most cited references24

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          Relation among serum and tissue concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin and macular pigment density.

          Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids in the macular region of the retina (referred to as macular pigment [MP]). Foods that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can increase MP density. Response to dietary lutein and zeaxanthin in other tissues has not been studied. The objective of this study was to examine tissue responses to dietary lutein and zeaxanthin and relations among tissues in lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations. Seven subjects consumed spinach and corn, which contain lutein and zeaxanthin, with their daily diets for 15 wk. At 0, 4, 8, and 15 wk and 2 mo after the study, serum, buccal mucosa cells, and adipose tissue were analyzed for carotenoids, and MP density was measured. Serum and buccal cell concentrations of lutein increased significantly from baseline during dietary modification. Serum zeaxanthin concentrations were greater than at baseline only at 4 wk, whereas buccal cell and adipose tissue concentrations of zeaxanthin did not change. Adipose tissue lutein concentrations peaked at 8 wk. Changes in adipose tissue lutein concentration were inversely related to the changes in MP density, suggesting an interaction between adipose tissue and retina in lutein metabolism. To investigate the possibility of tissue interactions, we examined cross-sectional relations among serum, tissue, and dietary lutein concentrations, anthropometric measures, and MP density in healthy adults. Significant negative correlations were found between adipose tissue lutein concentrations and MP for women, but a significant positive relation was found for men. Sex differences in lutein metabolism may be an important factor in tissue interactions and in determining MP density.
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            Low-serum carotenoid concentrations and carotenoid interactions predict mortality in US adults: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

            Evidence regarding the health benefits of carotenoids is controversial. Effects of serum carotenoids and their interactions on mortality have not been examined in a representative sample of US adults. The objective was to examine whether serum carotenoid concentrations predict mortality among US adults. The study consisted of adults aged ≥20 years enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988 to 1994, with measured serum carotenoids and mortality follow-up through 2006 (N = 13,293). Outcomes were all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality. In adjusted Cox proportional hazards models, participants in the lowest total carotenoid quartile ( 1.75 μmol/L). For α-carotene, the highest quartile (>0.11 μmol/L) had the lowest all-cause mortality rates (P < .001). For lycopene, the middle 2 quartiles (0.29-0.58 μmol/L) had the lowest all-cause mortality rates (P = .047). Analyses with continuous carotenoids confirmed associations of serum total carotenoids, α-carotene, and lycopene with all-cause mortality (P < .001). In a random survival forest analysis, very low lycopene was the carotenoid most strongly predictive of all-cause mortality, followed by very low total carotenoids. α-Carotene/β-cryptoxanthin, α-carotene/lutein+zeaxanthin and lycopene/lutein+zeaxanthin interactions were significantly related to all-cause mortality (P < .05). Low α-carotene was the only carotenoid associated with cardiovascular disease mortality (P = .002). No carotenoids were significantly associated with cancer mortality. Very low serum total carotenoid, α-carotene, and lycopene concentrations may be risk factors for mortality, but carotenoids show interaction effects on mortality. Interventions of balanced carotenoid combinations are needed for confirmation. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Associations between lutein, zeaxanthin, and age-related macular degeneration: an overview.

              Age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, is a degenerative condition of the macula characterized by death or dysfunction of the photoreceptors. With the aging population growing, the incidence of age-related macular degeneration is expected to increase. This raises concern about the future of visual dysfunction related falls and the resulting injuries in the elderly population. Lutein and zeaxanthin are macular pigments that may play a role in reducing the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration. Evidence is accumulating on the consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin (in whole food or supplemental form), the resulting concentrations in the serum, and tissue distribution throughout the body, particularly in the retina. Lutein and zeaxanthin intake increases serum concentrations which in turn increases macular pigment density. Existing literature focuses on factors affecting macular pigment density, functions of lutein and zeaxanthin as blue-light filters and antioxidants, and risk factors associated with age-related macular degeneration. Few studies have focused on the impact of dietary lutein and zeaxanthin on retinal function and the potential to preserve vision and prevent further degeneration. This presents an opportunity for further research to determine an effective dose that delays the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

                Author and article information

                Nutr J
                Nutr J
                Nutrition Journal
                BioMed Central
                3 June 2014
                : 13
                : 52
                [1 ]Department of Metabolism and Nutrition, Institute of Food Science, Technology and Nutrition (ICTAN-CSIC), C/José Antonio Novais, 10, 28040 Madrid, Spain
                [2 ]Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Pharmacy, Complutense University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
                Copyright © 2014 Olmedilla-Alonso et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                : 7 February 2014
                : 27 May 2014

                Nutrition & Dietetics
                lutein,zeaxanthin,serum,dietary intake,macular pigment optical density,lipid profile


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