Peroxidised phospholipid-mediated cytotoxity is involved in the pathophysiology of many diseases; for example, phospholipid hydroperoxides (PLOOH) are abnormally increased in erythrocytes of dementia patients. Dietary carotenoids (especially xanthophylls, polar carotenoids such as lutein) have gained attention as potent inhibitors against erythrocyte phospholipid hydroperoxidation, thereby making them plausible candidates for preventing diseases (i.e. dementia). To evaluate these points, we investigated whether orally administered lutein is distributed to human erythrocytes, and inhibits erythrocyte PLOOH formation. Six healthy subjects took one capsule of food-grade lutein (967mg lutein per capsule) once per d for 4 weeks. Before and during the supplementation period, carotenoids and PLOOH in erythrocytes and plasma were determined by our developed HPLC technique. The administered lutein was incorporated into human erythrocytes, and erythrocyte PLOOH level decreased after the ingestion for 2 and 4 weeks. The antioxidative effect of lutein was confirmed on erythrocyte membranes, but not in plasma. These results suggest that lutein has the potential to act as an important antioxidant molecule in erythrocytes, and it thereby may contribute to the prevention of dementia. Therefore future biological and clinical studies will be required to evaluate the efficacy as well as safety of lutein in models of dementia with a realistic prospect of its use in human therapy.
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