Preferential increase in chylomicron levels of the xanthophylls lutein and zeaxanthin compared to beta-carotene in the human

Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1996;66(2):119-25.


The time-course of appearance of five carotenoids in chylomicrons and their distribution pattern were studied following ingestion of a single dose of Betatene, a natural carotenoid source composed of 0.5% lutein, 0.75% zeaxanthin, 3.6% alpha-carotene, 70.3% all-trans beta-carotene, 22.7% beta-carotene cis isomers, 2.1% unidentified carotenoids and no lycopene. Lutein, zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and all-trans beta-carotene but not lycopene levels in chylomicrons increased after Betatene ingestion with a maximum at 9 h and a distinct decline from 9 to 12 h. However, the carotenoid pattern in the chylomicron fraction did not match the pattern in Betatene, with a 14-fold and 4-fold higher level of lutein and zeaxanthin, respectively, compared to their content in Betatene. The contribution of alpha-carotene to the carotenoid composition in chylomicrons reflected its content in Betatene, whereas the relative amount of all-trans beta-carotene was substantially lower than in Betatene. Thus, in the presence of high amounts of beta-carotene, there is a preferential uptake of the xanthophylls lutein and zeaxanthin as compared to all-trans beta-carotene from the intestinal lumen into chylomicrons.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Chylomicrons / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lutein / chemistry
  • Lutein / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Smoking
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Time Factors
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene / analogs & derivatives*
  • beta Carotene / pharmacokinetics*


  • Antioxidants
  • Chylomicrons
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • Lutein