Microalgae Nutraceuticals: The Role of Lutein in Human Health

  • M. Vila Spinola
  • E. Díaz-Santos


Lutein is a carotenoid compound belonging to the xanthophyll family whose more attractive bioactivity is its antioxidant capacity. This carotenoid is mainly distributed in vegetables and fruits and is present within the macula lutea as a pigment responsible of the yellow hue. Lutein has been widely found in the pigmentation of animal tissues as well as considered as an important nutraceutical and used for the coloration of foods, drugs, and cosmetics. Recently, lutein has been found to be effective in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer, having attracted thus great attention in relation to human health. At this time, the main source for an industrial-scale production of lutein is marigold oleoresin although, each time more, continuous reports concerning lutein-producing microalgae pose the question if those microorganisms could become a feasible alternative. In fact, several microalgae strains, such as Scenedesmus almeriensis, Chlorella zofingiensis, or Muriellopsis sp., have higher lutein content than most marigold cultivars and have been shown to yield productivities hundreds of times higher than marigold crops on a per square meter basis, suggesting that, in the current state of the art, microalgae could compete with marigold or other lutein producers. The potential of the lutein as nutraceutical and its role in metabolic functions related to human health as well as its production from microalgae are reviewed in this chapter.


Lutein Antioxidant Human health Macular degeneration Microalgae 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Vila Spinola
    • 1
  • E. Díaz-Santos
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Biochemistry, Faculty of Experimental Sciences, Marine International Campus of Excellence (CEIMAR)University of HuelvaHuelvaSpain
  2. 2.Laboratory of Biology and Biotechnology of Cyanobacteria, Institute for Integrative Biology of the Cell (I2BC), CEA, CNRS, Université Paris-SudUniversité Paris-SaclayGif-sur-Yvette CedexFrance

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