Macular xanthophylls and ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in age-related macular degeneration: a randomized trial

JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013 May;131(5):564-72. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.2851.


Importance: It has been shown that the functionality of the macula lutea depends on the nutritional uptake of lutein and zeaxanthin and that it is inversely associated with the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Additionally, ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) may also be protective.

Objective: To investigate the effect of a 12-month intervention with macular xanthophylls and ω-3 LC-PUFAs on xanthophylls and fatty acids in plasma, antioxidant capacity, and optical density of the macular pigment of patients with nonexudative AMD.

Design: The LUTEGA study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel clinical trial that was conducted for 12 months.

Setting: University Eye Hospital and Institute of Nutrition, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany.

Participants: A total of 172 individuals with nonexudative AMD.

Intervention: Individuals were enrolled and randomly divided as follows: placebo group, group 1 (a capsule containing 10 mg of lutein, 1 mg of zeaxanthin, 100 mg of docosahexaenoic acid, and 30 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid administered each day), and group 2 (same substances but twice the dose used in group 1). One hundred forty-five participants completed the study successfully.

Main outcome measures: Plasma xanthophyll concentrations and fatty acid profiles, optical density of the macular pigment, and antioxidant capacity in plasma (6-hydroxy-2,5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-carboxylic acid [Trolox] equivalent antioxidant capacity and photochemiluminescence).

Results: The concentrations of the administered carotenoids in plasma as well as the optical density of the macular pigment increased significantly in the groups randomized to receive supplementary macular xanthophylls and ω-3 LC-PUFAs after 1 month of intervention and remained at this level through the end of the study. Use of the double dose resulted in a beneficial alteration of the fatty acid profile in the plasma of patients with AMD in comparison with the dose in group 1. The lipophilic antioxidant capacity in plasma was significantly elevated with the intervention.

Conclusions and relevance: A supplement containing a fixed combination of lutein, zeaxanthin, and ω-3 LC-PUFAs during 12 months significantly improved plasma antioxidant capacity, circulating macular xanthophyll levels, and the optical density of the macular pigment.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT00763659.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Capsules
  • Chromans / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lutein / administration & dosage*
  • Lutein / blood
  • Macular Degeneration / blood
  • Macular Degeneration / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retinal Pigments / metabolism
  • Visual Acuity
  • Xanthophylls / administration & dosage*
  • Xanthophylls / blood
  • Zeaxanthins


  • Antioxidants
  • Capsules
  • Chromans
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Lipids
  • Retinal Pigments
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • 6-hydroxy-2,5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-carboxylic acid
  • Lutein

Associated data