Study unlocks door to xanthophyll for eye health

The science supporting lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health is strong, but how the compounds move from the blood stream to the eye was not clear. American scientists have gained an insight, according to new research. A protein called SR-B1, or scavenger receptor class B, type 1, is responsible for transporting nutrients to the eye, according to findings published in the Journal of Lipid Research. Earlier work had identified SR-B1’s involvement in the absorption of these nutrients in the intestine, so the researchers examined if the same transporter is also involved in the eye. A large body of science supports the role of lutein and zeaxanthin against the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of legal blindness for people over 55 years of age in the Western world, according to AMD Alliance International. «Our research to understand this mechanism might provide a greater appreciation for how one could intervene to possibly slow macular degeneration,» said lead researcher Earl Harrison from Ohio State University. The new study supports the potential of lutein and zeaxanthin by providing a valid mechanism, explaining how the compounds, known as xanthophylls, can be transported from the blood into the eyes. They are commonly found in green, leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, broccoli, zucchini and peas, and in yellow or orange fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, papaya, squash and peaches. Source: Journal of Lipid Research August 2008, Volume 49, Pages 1715-1724 «Xanthophylls are preferentially taken up compared with ß-carotene by retinal cells via a SRBI-dependent mechanism» Authors: A. During, S. Doraiswamy, E.H. Harrison
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