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Atherosclerosis. 2011 Dec;219(2):789-93. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.08.006. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

High serum level of lutein may be protective against early atherosclerosis: the Beijing atherosclerosis study.

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Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, School of Public Health, Peking University, 38 Xueyuan Road, Beijing 100191, China.



We investigated whether early atherosclerosis before calcified plaque appeared as assessed by carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) was associated with levels of the major carotenoids, and assessed the associations among these serum carotenoids, carotid IMT, and arterial stiffness.


The case-control study comprised 125 subjects with early atherosclerosis and 107 controls aged 45-68 years. We simultaneously measured common carotid IMT and arterial stiffness by carotid ultrasonography, and serum carotenoids were determined by high-pressure liquid chromatograph (HPLC).


In cases of early atherosclerosis, serum level of lutein was significantly lower than that in controls. Serum lutein was inversely associated with carotid IMT. Zeaxanthin and β-carotene were both negatively correlated with right common carotid artery stiffness β, elastic modulus (E(p)), and pulse wave velocity (PWV). After adjusting for age and gender, the associations remain significantly (P<0.05). However, there is no significant difference for zeaxanthin and β-carotene between the cases and controls.


These findings suggest that lutein may play a protective role in the prevention of early atherosclerosis, and the associations between serum carotenoids and arterial stiffness remained to be investigated.

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