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Appl. Chem. Vol. 74, No. 8, pp.
Pure and Applied
Vol. 74, Issue 8
New insights into the role of the macular carotenoids in age-related
macular degeneration. Resonance Raman studies*
Paul S. Bernstein
Moran Eye Center, University of Utah School of Medicine,
50 North Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA
Abstract: The human macula uniquely concentrates extraordinarily
high levels of two xanthophyll carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. The
function, metabolism, and physiology of these yellow pigments are incompletely
understood, but they are likely to prevent age-related damage to the
foveal region by virtue of their ability to act as free-radical quenching
antioxidants and to absorb phototoxic blue light with high efficiency.
A wealth of circumstantial evidence suggests that high macular levels
of these two carotenoids may protect against age-related macular degeneration
(AMD), but definitive prospective clinical studies still remain to be
conducted. It is imperative to gain a greater knowledge of the basic
biochemical and physiological mechanisms underlying the specific uptake
and metabolism of lutein and zea-xanthin in the macula and to develop
improved methods of quantifying macular carotenoid levels noninvasively
in order to facilitate the rational design of successful interventions
against the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the elderly in
the developed world. The development of resonance Raman spectroscopic
methods for the objective measurement of macular carotenoid levels in
living humans with and without AMD will be reviewed.
*Lecture presented at the 13 th International Symposium
on Carotenoids, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 6-11 January 2002.
Other lectures are published in this issue, pp. 1369-1477.
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