Dietary lutein/zeaxanthin decreases ultraviolet B-induced epidermal hyperproliferation and acute inflammation in hairless mice

J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Aug;121(2):399-405. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2003.12355.x.


Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in green leafy vegetables with interesting antioxidant properties. They are present in high concentrations in the fovea centralis of the human retina and their role in the prevention of age-related macula degeneration has been reported. We have investigated the effect of orally administered lutein and zeaxanthin in the cutaneous response to ultraviolet B irradiation. Female hairless SKh-1 mice receiving 0.4% and 0.04% lutein plus zeaxanthin-enriched diet for 2 wk were exposed to single doses of ultraviolet B radiation. Skin biopsies were taken at 24 and 48 h after irradiation and analyzed for the presence of apoptotic cells, proliferating cells, and expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen. Our results show a clear ultraviolet-induced dose-dependent inflammatory response. Orally administered 0.4% lutein and zeaxanthin decreased significantly the edematous cutaneous response (p<0.01) as determined by the reduction of the UVB-induced increase of ear bifold thickening. Additionally, dietary carotenoids were efficient in reducing the ultraviolet B-induced increases in the percentage of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (p<0.05), bromodeoxyuridine (p<0.05), and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick end-labeling-positive cells (p<0.01). These data demonstrate that oral supplementation of lutein and zeaxanthin diminishes the effects of ultraviolet B irradiation by reducing acute inflammatory responses and ultraviolet-induced hyperproliferative rebound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Cell Division
  • Dermatitis / etiology
  • Dermatitis / prevention & control*
  • Diet
  • Epidermis / drug effects
  • Epidermis / pathology*
  • Epidermis / radiation effects*
  • Female
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Lutein / administration & dosage*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / metabolism
  • Radiation Injuries / complications
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage*
  • beta Carotene / analogs & derivatives*


  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • Lutein