News - Lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce cataract risk
Previous population studies suggest that dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is inversely related to cataract risk, but until recently the mechanism behind the protection of the lens was not fully understood. However, new research published in the journal Molecular Vision may just have the answer!
The new study was performed by researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in China and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University. The experiment was designed to mimic the conditions found inside the eyes of people with cataracts, where elevated levels of hydrogen peroxide in the lens and surrounding fluid lead to oxidative damage and lens opacification.
The researchers took cells from the human lens and soaked them in lutein, zeaxanthin, or vitamin E for 48 hours before exposing them to the oxidising compound hydrogen peroxide for one hour. They then measured the various markers of oxidative stress, DNA damage, and cell viability.
Results showed that hydrogen peroxide significantly increased levels of oxidative damage, while such damage was reduced when the cells were incubated with lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin E. “These data indicate that lutein or zeaxanthin supplementation protects lens protein, lipid, and DNA from oxidative damage and improves intracellular redox status upon oxidative stress,” wrote the researchers. “The data imply that sufficient intake of lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk for senile cataract via protecting the lens from oxidative damage.”
S Gao et al. Lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation reduces H2O2-induced oxidative damage in human lens epithelial cells. Mol Vis. 2011;17:3180-90.