Purpose: Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) is a randomized, placebo-controlled study designed to determine whether supplementation with 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin per day can slow the rate of progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although some biomarkers of response to carotenoid supplementation such as serum concentrations are part of the AREDS2 protocol, measurement of carotenoid concentrations in the eye and other tissues is not. In this approved ancillary study, macular pigment optical density (MPOD), macular pigment distributions, and skin carotenoid levels at enrollment and at each annual visit were measured to assess baseline carotenoid status and to monitor response to assigned interventions.
Methods: All subjects enrolled at the Moran Eye Center had MPOD and macular pigment spatial distributions measured by dual-wavelength autofluorescence imaging and total skin carotenoids measured by resonance Raman spectroscopy. Results. Baseline MPOD in enrolled subjects was unusually high relative to an age-matched control group that did not consume carotenoid supplements regularly, consistent with the high rate of habitual lutein and zeaxanthin consumption in Utah AREDS2 subjects prior to enrollment. MPOD did not correlate with serum or skin carotenoid measurements.
Conclusions: Useful information is provided through this ancillary study on the ocular carotenoid status of AREDS2 participants in the target tissue of lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation: The macula. When treatment assignments are unmasked at the conclusion of the study, unique tissue-based insights will be provided on the progression of AMD in response to long-term, high-dose carotenoid supplementation versus diet alone. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00345176.).