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Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1555-62.

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

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Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.



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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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