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J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;42(4):1191-202. doi: 10.3233/JAD-140507.

Macular pigment, visual function, and macular disease among subjects with Alzheimer's disease: an exploratory study.

Author information

1
Macular Pigment Research Group, Department of Chemical and Life Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland.
2
Howard Foundation, Cambridge, UK Downing College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
3
Waterford Regional Hospital, Age-Related Care Unit, Waterford, Ireland.
4
Northern Ireland, Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The macula (central retina) contains a yellow pigment, comprising the dietary carotenoids lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z), and meso-zeaxanthin, known as macular pigment (MP). The concentrations of MP's constituent carotenoids in retina and brain tissue correlate, and there is a biologically-plausible rationale, supported by emerging evidence, that MP's constituent carotenoids are also important for cognitive function.

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate if patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are comparable to controls in terms of MP and visual function.

METHODS:

36 patients with moderate AD and 33 controls with the same age range participated. MP was measured using dual-wavelength autofluorescence (Heidelberg Spectralis®); cognitive function was assessed using a battery of cognition tests (including Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery). Visual function was recorded by measuring best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and contrast sensitivity (CS). Serum L and Z concentrations (by HPLC) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD, by retinal examination) status were also assessed.

RESULTS:

In the AD group, central MP (i.e., at 0.23┬░) and MP volume were significantly lower than the control group (p < 0.001 for both), as were measures of BCVA, CS, and serum L and Z concentrations (p < 0.05, for all).

CONCLUSION:

AD patients were observed to exhibit significantly less MP, lower serum concentrations of L and Z, poorer vision, and a higher occurrence of AMD when compared to control subjects. A clinical trial in AD patients designed to investigate the impact of macular carotenoid supplementation with respect to MP, visual function, and cognitive function is merited.

KEYWORDS:

Age-related macular degeneration; Alzheimer's disease; cognitive function; contrast sensitivity; lutein; meso-zeaxanthin; visual function; zeaxanthin

PMID:
25024317
DOI:
10.3233/JAD-140507
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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