The Effect of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplementation on Metabolites of These Carotenoids in the Serum of Persons Aged 60 or Older

Publication Type
Journal Article
Year of Publication
Khachik, F; de Moura, F; Chew, E; Douglass, L; Ferris, F; Kim, J; Thompson, DJS
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci
Start Page
Date Published
Aged; alpha-Tocopherol; Carotenoids; Chromatography- High Pressure Liquid; Diet; Dietary Supplements; Double-Blind Method; Drug Therapy- Combination; Female; Lutein; Macular Degeneration; Male; Middle Aged; Vitamin A; Xanthophylls; zeaxanthin
PURPOSE: To investigate the effect of lutein supplementation at doses of 2.5, 5.0, and 10 mg/d for 6 months on distribution of these carotenoids and their metabolites in the serum of elderly human subjects, with and without age-related macular degeneration. To determine whether supplementation with lutein can interact with the serum levels of other dietary carotenoids, retinol, and alpha-tocopherol. METHODS: Forty-five subjects received daily supplements of lutein (containing 5% zeaxanthin) for 6 months and were followed up for another 6 months after supplementation. Blood was collected at various intervals and lutein, zeaxanthin, and their metabolites in the sera were quantified by normal-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-UV/visible detection. Other dietary carotenoids, retinol, and alpha-tocopherol were identified and quantified on a C18 reversed phase HPLC column. RESULTS: After 6 months of supplementation with 10 mg of lutein, the increases in the mean serum levels from baseline were: 210 to 1000 nM/L (P < 0.0001) for lutein and 56 to 95 nM/L (P < 0.0001) for zeaxanthin. Similarly, the mean concentrations (nM/L) of carotenoid metabolites increased from 49 to 98 (P < 0.0001) for 3-hydroxy-beta,epsilon-caroten-3'-one (3'-oxolutein); 31 to 80 (P < 0.0001) for 3'-hydroxy-epsilon,epsilon-caroten-3-one; and 19 to 25 (P < 0.0001) for epsilon,epsilon-carotene-3,3'-dione. The serum levels of these carotenoids gradually decline within 6 months after supplementation. CONCLUSIONS: The increase in the serum levels of lutein/zeaxanthin correlates with increases in the serum levels of their metabolites that have previously been identified in the ocular tissues. Elderly human subjects with and without AMD can safely take supplements of lutein up to 10 mg/d for 6 months with no apparent toxicity or side effects.