Background: Epidemiological studies have established that a low serum concentration of carotenoids was associated with risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). The aim of this study was to determine carotenoid levels in serum and in different lipoprotein fractions in patients diagnosed for ARMD and in matched control group.
Method: Thirty-four ARMD patients and 21 control subjects from Brest area (France) have been included to this study. Lipoproteins have been separated from serum by gradient density ultracentrifugation. We measured concentration of carotenoids and tocopherols in serum and in different lipoprotein fractions by HPLC.
Results: No difference was observed between ARMD patients and control subjects in total serum carotenoids. Individual carotenoid levels showed that only lycopene was decreased significantly in serum, LDL and HDL fractions in patients (P<0.05). Concentrations in serum and lipoparticle fractions of lutein and zeaxanthin, the major pigments present in macula were not modified between both groups.
Conclusions: Lycopene, as liposoluble antioxidant nutrient, is the only carotenoid altered in ARMD patients. It cannot be excluded that this effect is related to different dietary habits, but we hypothesise that lower lycopene status could result also from specific antioxidant protection of lutein and zeaxanthin by lycopene.