Serum levels of macular carotenoids in relation to age-related maculopathy

The Muenster Aging and Retina Study (MARS)
  • Burkhard Dasch
  • Andrea Fuhs
  • Joachim Schmidt
  • Thomas Behrens
  • Astrid Meister
  • Juergen Wellmann
  • Manfred Fobker
  • Daniel Pauleikhoff
  • Hans-Werner HenseEmail author
Clinical Investigation



It has been hypothesized that the macular carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, may protect against age-related maculopathy. We evaluated the association between blood concentrations of lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) and age-related maculopathy (ARM) in a case-control analysis of the baseline examination of the Muenster Ageing and Retina Study (MARS).


Of the 1060 participants aged 59–82 years at baseline, 910 (85.9%) with bilateral gradable fundus photographs and complete data for the carotenoids and potential confounders were included. The Rotterdam classification system was used for definition of ARM stages. Multivariate linear regression methods were applied to model the relationship between macular carotenoids and the presence of ARM.


The participants’ mean age was 70.9+5.5 years, 59.9% were female, 20.8% had a normal bilateral fundus, and 48.5% showed signs of early ARM (uni- or bilateral) and 30.7% of late ARM (in at least one eye). In study participants with L and/or Z supplementation (15.6%), the median serum levels for L (Z) were approximately 2 times (1.5 times) higher than in subjects with no supplementation. After exclusion of subjects with L and/or Z supplementation, no statistically significant bivariate relationship was observed between the serum levels of L or Z and the presence of ARM. Multivariate regression models, adjusting for age, gender, smoking, body-mass index, and HDL-cholesterol blood levels, produced adjusted mean serum levels of 0.124, 0.112, and 0.131 μg/ml for L and 0.019, 0.020, and 0.022 μg/ml for Z in subjects with normal fundus, early ARM, and late ARM, respectively.


In this large study, the serum concentrations of L and Z were not related to the prevalence of ARM. However, the large proportion of study participants taking L and/or Z supplementation may have affected these results.


Age-related maculopathy Age-related macular degeneration Macular carotenoids Lutein Zeaxanthin 



The study was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grants HE 2293/5-1 and 2293/5-2, the ProRetina foundation and the IMF fund of the University of Muenster. We thank Ada Hooghart and Corina Brussee from the Rotterdam Study team for enthusiastically supporting our efforts to achieve a high quality of fundus grading.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Burkhard Dasch
    • 1
  • Andrea Fuhs
    • 1
  • Joachim Schmidt
    • 1
  • Thomas Behrens
    • 1
  • Astrid Meister
    • 1
    • 2
  • Juergen Wellmann
    • 1
  • Manfred Fobker
    • 3
  • Daniel Pauleikhoff
    • 2
  • Hans-Werner Hense
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Epidemiology and Social MedicineUniversity of MuensterMuensterGermany
  2. 2.Department of OphthalmologySt. Franziskus Hospital MuensterMuensterGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory MedicineUniversity of MuensterMuensterGermany

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