Trial finds benefit for lycopene and lutein in adults with subclinical atherosclerosis
Friday, September 27, 2013. The results of a trial reported online on September 19, 2013 in the British Journal of Nutrition reveal an association between supplementation with the carotenoids lycopene and lutein and a reduction in carotid intima-media thickness (CAIMT), which is a measure of atherosclerotic plaque.
"CAIMT can be used to detect early atherosclerosis as a marker to predict cardiac events including myocardial infarction and stroke," explain authors Zhi-Yong Zou and colleagues from Peking University. "Though atherosclerosis is an inevitable degenerative consequence of ageing, the progress of atherosclerosis can be slowed down through some approaches."
The study included 144 men and women between 45 and 68 years of age with subclinical atherosclerosis, defined as CAIMT greater than 0.75 millimeters among those aged 59 years or younger and greater than 0.85 millimeters for subjects aged 60 and older. Participants were randomized to receive 20 milligrams lutein, 20 milligrams lutein plus 20 milligrams lycopene, or a placebo daily for one year. Doppler ultrasonography conducted at the beginning and end of the trial evaluated carotid artery intima-media thickness, and blood tests analyzed serum lutein and lycopene levels.
Not surprisingly, serum levels of lutein and lycopene increased significantly among subjects who received them, while remaining unchanged in the placebo group. While average carotid artery intima-media thickness did not change in the placebo group after a year, a significant reduction was observed in both those who received lutein and those who received lutein and lycopene. Those who received both lutein and lycopene experienced the greatest reduction in CAIMT.
"To our knowledge, this is the first randomised controlled trial to study the effects of lutein and lycopene in subjects with subclinical atherosclerosis, and the present study provides evidence for their subclinical application," the authors announce. "The combination of lutein and lycopene supplementation was more effective than lutein alone for protection against the development of CAIMT in Chinese subjects with subclinical atherosclerosis, which can be used as a new strategy for preventing the development of atherosclerosis."
In an article published online on January 4, 2013 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the University of Connecticut report an association between improved dietary antioxidant capacity and reductions in plasma homocysteine and C-reactive protein (CRP), both of which are markers of increased cardiovascular disease risk.
The study included 4,391 men and women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2002. Questionnaire responses concerning diet and supplement use over a 24 hour period were analyzed to provide the antioxidant capacities of 43 nutrients. (The antioxidant capacity of 30 flavonoids was determined from food sources only.) Blood samples were analyzed for serum levels of alpha and gamma tocopherols, six carotenoids and CRP, and plasma total homocysteine.
Total antioxidant capacity (TAC) was correlated with serum vitamin E and carotenoid levels. As TAC rose, the risk of having a total homocysteine level of greater than 13 micromoles per liter decreased. Those whose intake of antioxidants was among the top 25 percent of participants had more than double the chance of having a homocysteine level under 13 micromoles per liter in comparison with those whose TAC was among the lowest fourth. A reduction in the risk of having a CRP level of 3 milligrams per liter or higher was also observed in association with increasing TAC. A significant decline in homocysteine and CRP was observed in association with higher TAC from diet combined with supplements or supplements alone, but not with diet alone.
"Dietary TAC was associated with improved serum antioxidant status and decreased risk factors of cardiovascular disease including serum CRP and plasma total homocysteine concentrations," the authors conclude. "The implicated applicability of dietary TAC needs further validation in prospective cohort studies."
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