Lutein and zeaxanthin are lipophilic pigments belonging to the group of carotenoids traditionally found in fruits and dark-green leafy vegetables. They are the only carotenoids present in the lens and macula lutea.
The ability of lutein to provide effective removal of free radicals, such as singlet oxygen, is primarily governed by the chemical structure of lutein. Studies show the important antioxidant role of lutein and its role in the inhibition of lipofuscin, a polymeric oxidative molecule involved in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Lutein absorbs blue-light at wavelenghts around 450 nm with a peak of absorption at 446 nm. Of the known carotenoids, lutein has been shown to have the highest blue light filtering properties.
During inflammation, lutein is thought to scavenge ROS generated during inflammatory process and to interfere in intracellular pathways leading to the expression of various pro-inflammatory molecules. Moreover, since the eye is constantly exposed to light (being susceptible to light-induced damage), a great deal of interest focusing on the neuroprotective role of lutein has been generated.
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