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PLoS One. 2016 May 20;11(5):e0155488. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155488. eCollection 2016.

Relationship between Concentrations of Lutein and StARD3 among Pediatric and Geriatric Human Brain Tissue.

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Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition, Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA, 02111, United States of America.
Moran Eye Center, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, 84132, United States of America.
Institute of Gerontology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, United States of America.


Lutein, a dietary carotenoid, selectively accumulates in human retina and brain. While many epidemiological studies show evidence of a relationship between lutein status and cognitive health, lutein's selective uptake in human brain tissue and its potential function in early neural development and cognitive health have been poorly evaluated at a molecular level. The objective of this study was to evaluate the cross-sectional relationship between concentrations of brain lutein and StARD3 (identified as its binding protein in retinal tissue) among three age groups: infants (1-4 months, n = 10), older adults (55-86 years, n = 8), and centenarians (98-105 years, n = 10). Brain lutein concentrations were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography and StARD3 levels were analyzed by Western Blot analysis. The strong relationship in infant brains (r = 0.75, P < 0.001) suggests that lutein has a role in neural development. The relationship remained significant but weaker in older adults (r = 0.51, P < 0.05) and insignificant in centenarians (r = 0.08, P > 0.05), seven of whom had mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. These exploratory findings suggest an age-related decrease or abnormality of StARD3 activity in human brain. Given that StARD3 is also involved in cholesterol transportation, a process that is aberrant in neurodegenerative diseases, the potential protective function of lutein against these diseases remains to be explored.

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