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Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Nov;94(5):1211-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.019067. Epub 2011 Sep 14.

Serum carotenoid concentrations predict lung function evolution in young adults: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 55454, USA.



A higher dietary intake of carotenoid-rich foods and higher circulating concentrations of carotenoids have been associated with better lung function in cross-sectional studies; however, the longitudinal association between carotenoids and lung function has shown conflicting results.


We examined the longitudinal association between serum carotenoids (β-cryptoxanthin, α-carotene, β-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, and lycopene) and the evolution of lung function.


We evaluated our hypothesis in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) prospective cohort study. Spirometry testing was conducted at year 0 (1985-1986) and at follow-up in years 2, 5, 10, and 20; serum carotenoids were assayed at years 0 and 15, and diet was assessed at years 0 and 20.


Year 0 sum of provitamin A carotenoids and β-cryptoxanthin concentrations were associated with maximum forced vital capacity (FVC) (P ≤ 0.01) and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)) (P ≤ 0.05) (maximum across years 0-10) in linear regression models adjusted for age, race, height, study center, amount of physical activity, smoking status, and BMI. Year 0 lutein/zeaxanthin and lycopene were not associated with maximum lung function. Baseline concentrations of lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene, sum of the 3 provitamin A carotenoids, β-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin were each inversely associated with a decline from maximum FVC and FEV(1) (P ≤ 0.04). The sum of provitamin A carotenoids and lycopene remained significant after adjustment for dietary intake related to serum carotenoids (P ≤ 0.03). The 15-y change in provitamin A carotenoid and lutein/zeaxanthin concentrations was associated with a slower decline from maximum FVC and FEV(1) (P ≤ 0.04).


These findings support an association between serum carotenoid concentrations and a decline in lung function.

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