European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 99–103 | Cite as

Zeaxanthin is bioavailable from genetically modified zeaxanthin-rich potatoes

  • Achim BubEmail author
  • Jutta Möseneder
  • Gerhard Wenzel
  • Gerhard Rechkemmer
  • Karlis Briviba


The carotenoid zeaxanthin accumulates in the human macula lutea and protects retinal cells from blue light damage. However, zeaxanthin intake from food sources is low. Increasing zeaxanthin in common foods such as potatoes by traditional plant breeding or by genetic engineering could contribute to an increased intake of this carotenoid and, consequently, to a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration. Our aim was to investigate whether zeaxanthin from genetically modified zeaxanthin-rich potatoes is bioavailable in humans. Three men participated in this randomized, controlled double-blinded, crossover pilot study. All subjects consumed 1,100 g of mashed potatoes, either genetically modified (Solanum tuberosum L. var. Baltica GM47/18; 3 mg zeaxanthin) or wild-type control potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L. var. Baltica; 0.14 mg zeaxanthin). A second treatment was followed after a 7-day wash-out period. The concentration of zeaxanthin was significantly increased in chylomicrons after consumption of genetically modified potatoes and 0.27 mg of the 3 mg zeaxanthin dose could be detected in chylomicrons. Consumption of control potatoes had no effect on concentrations of zeaxanthin in chylomicrons. After normalization of chylomicron zeaxanthin for plasma triacylglycerol, the time course of zeaxanthin concentrations peaked at 7 h after consumption of genetically modified potatoes. There were no significant differences in the concentrations of other major potato carotenoids such as lutein and β-carotene in chylomicrons after consumption of genetically modified and wild type control potatoes. Thus, consumption of zeaxanthin-rich potatoes significantly increases chylomicron zeaxanthin concentrations suggesting that potentially such potatoes could be used as an important dietary source of zeaxanthin.


zeaxanthin bioavailability age-related macular degeneration potato 



The study was supported by a grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF-0312248H). We thank E Hoch, U Stadler-Prayle, and S Demirel for their excellent technical assistance. The initial idea for the project came from GR and AB. JM and AB designed and performed the intervention study and were responsible for the test meals, sample collection and storage. GW has supervised wildtype and GM potato breeding and storage. KB measured the carotenoids. AB and KB evaluated the data and drafted the manuscript. None of the authors had any conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Spinger 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Achim Bub
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jutta Möseneder
    • 1
  • Gerhard Wenzel
    • 2
  • Gerhard Rechkemmer
    • 1
  • Karlis Briviba
    • 1
  1. 1.Federal Research Centre for Nutrition and Food, Institute of Nutritional PhysiologyKarlsruheGermany
  2. 2.Technical University of Munich, Center of Life and Food Sciences, WeihenstephanFreising-WeihenstephanGermany

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