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Possible influences of lutein and zeaxanthin on the developing retina

Authors J Paul Zimmer, Billy R Hammond, Jr

Published 15 June 2007 Volume 2007:1(1) Pages 25—35

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J Paul Zimmer1, Billy R Hammond, Jr2

1Wyeth Nutrition, Clinical Nutrition Research, Collegeville, PA, USA; 2Vision Science Laboratory, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

Abstract: The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (LZ) are found throughout the central nervous system but reach their highest concentration within the macular region of the primate retina where they are commonly referred to as the macular pigments. Although LZ are a major integral feature of the central fovea, no information currently exists regarding the effects of variability in the concentration of these pigments on the developing retina. In particular, the long-term effects of very low levels of macular pigment are not known and potentially meaningful. Macular pigment levels depend upon dietary intake since LZ cannot be synthesized de novo. Infants with low intake of LZ (eg, infants receiving unfortified infant formula or breast milk from mothers with low carotenoid diets) would be expected to have considerably lower macular pigment compared with infants with high LZ intake (eg, breast-fed infants with mothers on carotenoidrich diets). In this paper we discuss possible implications of this difference and the available evidence suggesting that LZ could influence the developing visual system.

Keywords: lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids, macular pigment, infant

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