Changes in Macular Pigment Optical Density and Serum Lutein Concentration in Japanese Subjects Taking Two Different Lutein Supplements

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 9;10(10):e0139257. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139257. eCollection 2015.


Purpose: To investigate macular pigment optical density (MPOD) and serum concentration changes of lutein in Japanese subjects participating in a clinical trial in which two formulations of lutein and zeaxanthin supplements with different physiochemical properties are used.

Methods: Thirty-six healthy volunteers were recruited into this prospective, randomized, parallel-group, double-masked comparative study at a single institute. Two products were used, FloraGLO® (Kemin Japan) and XanMax® (Katra Phytochem). The lutein particle size and zeaxanthin concentrations differed between the formulations. The subjects consumed one of the two supplements for a duration of up to 6 months. MPOD levels were measured by resonance Raman spectrometry at baseline and once a month until the end of the study. Serum lutein concentration was measured at baseline, month 3, and month 6. The subjects were also tested for contrast sensitivity, glare sensitivity, visual acuity, and in addition had a focal electroretinogram measured.

Results: The mean serum lutein concentrations increased significantly after the first three months, but the mean MPOD levels in either supplement group did not show any statistically significant increase. A detailed analysis, however, revealed three response patterns in both groups for the increase of MPOD levels and serum lutein concentration, i.e. "retinal responders", who had an increase of both MPOD levels and serum lutein concentrations (n = 13), "retinal non-responders", who had only increased serum concentrations and no change in MPOD levels (n = 20), and "retinal and serum non-responders", who had neither MPOD level nor plasma concentration increases (n = 3). The subjects with low MPOD levels at baseline appeared to show increased MPOD levels at the 6 month time point upon lutein supplementation (r = -0.4090, p = 0.0133). Glare sensitivity improved in retinal responders in both supplement groups, while there were no remarkable changes in contrast sensitivity.

Conclusions: No statistically significant differences could be detected for MPOD levels and serum lutein concentrations between the two investigated lutein supplement formulations. Responses to lutein supplementation regarding MPOD levels and serum lutein concentrations varied between subjects. Subjects with lower MPOD levels at baseline responded well to lutein supplementation. However, since the number of subjects was low, a further study with more subjects is needed to prove that subjects with low MPOD levels will benefit from lutein supplementation.

Trial registration: UMIN-CTR UMIN000004593.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Dietary Supplements* / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Lutein / administration & dosage
  • Lutein / blood*
  • Lutein / therapeutic use*
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control*
  • Macular Pigment / analysis
  • Macular Pigment / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Visual Acuity
  • Zeaxanthins / administration & dosage
  • Zeaxanthins / blood*
  • Zeaxanthins / therapeutic use*


  • Macular Pigment
  • Zeaxanthins
  • Lutein

Associated data

  • JPRN/UMIN000004593