Dietary modulation of lens zeaxanthin in quail.Exp Eye Res. 2005 Oct; 81(4):464-77.EE
Although higher dietary intake of lutein/zeaxanthin has been associated with reduced risk for cataracts, the impact of dietary supplements on lens lutein (L) or zeaxanthin (Z) has not been examined. If higher lens carotenoids do reduce risk for cataract, it would be essential to know whether dietary carotenoids can elevate carotenoids in the adult vertebrate lens. In this study, a covey of Japanese quail were hatched and raised 6 months on carotenoid-deficient diet, then switched to deficient diet supplemented with low or high 3R,3R'-zeaxanthin (5 or 35 mgkg(-1) food) or beta-carotene (50 mgkg(-1) food). Controls included a group of covey-mates that remained on the deficient diet and another raised from birth on the high Z (35 mg Zkg(-1)) diet. At 1 year of age, carotenoids and tocopherols in the lens and in the serum were analysed by HPLC, and compared by analysis of variance. Serum Z was significantly elevated in deficient birds fed the lower or higher Z supplement for 6 months (P<0.0001 for each). Serum Z in birds maintained on the higher Z supplement for 1 year was much higher than that in deficient birds (P<0.0001), but not different from deficient birds given the higher Z supplement. As in humans, the predominant lens carotenoids were lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z), and the total carotenoid concentration was of lower magnitude than the concentration of alpha-tocopherol. Responses to Z supplementation were sex-related. Female quail had 5-10 times higher serum concentrations of both Z and L than males (P<0.0001, <0.001), and they also had higher lens Z concentrations than males (P<0.0006); possible effects of estrogen on lens carotenoids are discussed. Lens Z concentration was strongly and positively correlated with serum Z in females (r=0.77; P<0.002). Deficient adult females supplemented with the 35 mgkg(-1) dose of Z for 6 months had a mean lens Z concentration (0.252+/-0.06 microgg(-1) protein) close to that in females fed with the supplement from birth (0.282+/-0.15 microgg(-1) protein). Birds fed with the higher dietary Z supplement for 6 or 12 months had significantly higher lens Z than birds fed lower or no dietary Z (P<0.0001). Lens L was not altered by dietary supplementation with either Z or beta-carotene. beta-Carotene supplements did not result in detectable lens beta-carotene, and had no effect on lens Z. Neither Z nor beta-carotene supplementation had a significant effect on serum or lens tocopherol concentrations. These studies in quail provide the first experimental evidence that lens carotenoids in adult vertebrates can be manipulated by dietary Z supplements.