Comment on: What is meso-zeaxanthin, and where does it come from? Response

Macular Pigment Research Group, Vision Research Centre, Carriganore House, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland.
Eye (London, England) (Impact Factor: 2.08). 05/2013; 27(8). DOI: 10.1038/eye.2013.98
Source: PubMed


The carotenoids lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z), and meso-zeaxanthin (MZ) accumulate in the central retina, where they are collectively known as macular pigment (MP). Each of these three compounds exhibit a regional dominance, with MZ, Z, and L being the dominant carotenoids at the epicentre, mid-periphery, and periphery of the macula, respectively. There is a growing and evidence-based consensus that MP is important for optimal visual performance, because of its blue light-filtering properties and consequential attenuation of chromatic aberration, veiling luminance, and blue haze. It has also been hypothesised that MP may protect against age-related macular degeneration because of the same optical properties and also because of the antioxidant capacity of the three macular carotenoids. Challenges inherent in the separation and quantification of MZ have resulted in a paucity of data on the content of this carotenoid in foodstuffs, and have rendered the study of tissue concentrations of this compound problematic. As a consequence, the few studies that have investigated MZ have, perhaps, been disproportionately influential in the ongoing debate about the origins of this macular carotenoid. Certainly, the narrative that retinal MZ is derived wholly and solely from retinal L needs to be revisited.Eye advance online publication, 24 May 2013; oi:10.1038/eye.2013.98.

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    ABSTRACT: The carotenoids lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z), and meso-zeaxanthin (MZ) accumulate in the central retina (the macula), where they are collectively known as macular pigment (MP). MP has been shown to enhance visual function in both diseased and non-diseased retinae, and therefore an understanding and confirmation of, the origins of these carotenoids is needed. Studies have shown that L and Z are present in many foodstuffs found in a typical Western diet (e.g. spinach, kale, peppers, yellow corn and eggs). It has been shown that MZ is generated from L in the primate retina and earlier reports suggested that MZ was present in some fish species. Recently, however, one research group reported that MZ is not present in fish and suggested that the earlier reports showing MZ in these marine species were a methodological artefact. The current study was designed to investigate the reason for the contradiction, and test for the presence of MZ in fish and some other foods. Raw fruits, vegetables and fish were extracted for carotenoid analysis by high performance liquid chromatography. MZ was not detected in any of the fruits or vegetables tested in our study. However, using retention time matching, absorption spectrum comparison, and sample spiking, we verified the presence of MZ in salmon skin, sardine skin, trout skin and trout flesh. This study confirmed the presence MZ in nature, and in the human food chain.
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