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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
OmniActive Health Technologies’ (Morristown, NJ) Lutemax 2020 lutein and zeaxanthin ingredient may fight blue light–induced eye degeneration by regulating some key genes involved in photoreceptor degeneration, according to a new mouse study.
OmniActive Health Technologies’ (Morristown, NJ) Lutemax 2020 lutein and zeaxanthin ingredient may fight blue light–induced eye degeneration by regulating some key genes involved in photoreceptor degeneration, according to a new mouse study.1 In this study, researchers examined the effects of Lutemax 2020, an extract containing lutein, RR-zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin, on oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum stress, two major factors that cause photoreceptor degeneration.
Prolonged exposure to high-intensity blue light from sources such as sunlight, as well as digital device screens, can seriously damage the eye’s retina and lead to age-related macular degeneration. Two of the major causes of photoreceptor degeneration as a result of blue light damage are oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum stress. The endoplasmic reticulum is a cellular structure that, when under stress, has been linked to retinal damage and is considered a factor in age-related macular degeneration, wrote the researchers.
Carotenoids are present in many fruits and vegetables, but they’re also present in eye tissue. A prevailing theory is that carotenoids protect cells from light, or damage caused by it, in both animals and plants. A few carotenoids in particular are concentrated in the eyes and brain more than elsewhere in the human and animal body. They are lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin. Collectively, these are classed as xanthophyll carotenoids. Marigold flowers happen to be particularly rich in these carotenoids, so the Lutemax 2020 extract, which contains all three carotenoids, was used as the active ingredient in the recent mouse study.
Mice were fed Lutemax 2020 in sunflower oil for five days. The mice were later exposed to the dark for 12 hours, then had their pupils dilated, and then were exposed to prolonged blue light for one hour. After euthanasia, the mice’s retinal tissues were examined using various scientific analyses, including electroretinography (an eye test used to detect abnormal function of the retina) and terminal deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling (TUNEL; to measure the thickness of the outer nuclear layer of the retina), to analyze whether Lutemax 2020 had a protective effect. The researchers also used Western blotting analysis-a method of detecting specific proteins-to examine the mechanisms related to oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum stress in the study.
Compared to placebo, Lutemax 2020 consumption was associated with changes in gene expression and cell composition that the researchers say implied reduced oxidative stress and reduced endoplasmic reticulum stress.
Researchers wrote that Lutemax 2020’s protective effect “was confirmed by the significant improvement of dark-adapted and light-adapted electroretinography a-wave and b-wave amplitudes, and reduction of the number of TUNEL-positive cells in the retinas.” They also stated that Lutemax 2020 may help regulate cellular pathways, such as MAPK and Nrf2 pathways, which are involved in oxidative stress. (MAPK is positively related, while NrF2 is negatively related.)
In the Lutemax 2020 group, Western blotting results indicated a significant reduction in four protein markers of endoplasmic reticulum stress: 78 kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78), activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6), phosphorylated protein kinase RNA-lie endoplasmic reticulum kinase (p-PERK), and activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4). “Data indicated that [Lutemax 2020] might exert its protective effects at least partially through reducing endoplasmic reticulum stress,” they concluded.
The data provides what involved parties claim is the first evidence of blue light increasing stress in the endoplasmic reticulum.
“Treatment with [Lutemax 2020] could protect photoreceptors against degeneration induced by high intensity of blue light,” the researchers concluded. “Our data shows that [Lutemax 2020] provided functional and morphological preservation of photoreceptors against light damage, which is probably related to its mitigation of oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress.”
They added that future studies on these carotenoids in animals with retinal degeneration would be useful and could pave the way for future human studies.
The mouse study is now available for open access reading in the journal Nutrients. It was funded by OmniActive Health Technologies Inc. (Morristown, NJ) and international grants.
Not all commercial carotenoid products are made the same. It’s worth noting that this study was performed using Lutemax 2020, which its manufacture says bears a “unique combination” of these three carotenoid forms.
Nutritional Outlook asked OmniActive Marketing Manager Brian Appell to comment on the significance of this study and how it expands what researchers know about the effects of blue light and how supplemental ingredients like Lutemax 2020 can play a beneficial role.
“We are taking a leading position in blue light research and creating awareness around the importance of adequate intake of macular carotenoids at each life stage,” he says. “The eyes are constantly exposed to environmental blue light (the sun being the biggest contributor) and digital blue light (computer screens and smartphones, to name a few), and this study builds upon our research showing that there are both short-term and long-term effects and benefits with supplementation.”
This research also builds on OmniActive’s existing research on the effects of Lutemax 2020 on blue light damage. “Whereas the B.L.U.E. study2 demonstrated the short-term benefits of supplementing with Lutemax 2020, this new study details how the long-term damage to retinal cells from all sources of blue light can be mitigated with adequate intake of macular carotenoids," Appell says.
Appell says he hopes researchers will continue building on this study’s findings, especially the novel findings around endoplasmic reticulum stress.
He adds: “As this research clearly shows how lutein and the zeaxanthin isomers ameliorate the effects of high-energy waves on retinal tissue, better insight can be developed into the protective effects of macular carotenoids supplementation for the general population, as well as those at risk for conditions like AMD and diabetic retinopathy. By expanding this model to other cell/animal models, researchers may get better insights to develop clinical trials for various degenerative conditions of the retina.”