Macular pigment and lutein supplementation in ABCA4-associated retinal degenerations

Tomas S. Aleman, Artur V. Cideciyan, Elizabeth A.M. Windsor, Sharon B. Schwartz, Malgorzata Swider, John D. Chico, Alexander Sumaroka, Alexander Y. Pantelyat, Keith G. Duncan, Leigh M. Gardner, Jessica M. Emmons, Janet D. Steinberg, Edwin M. Stone, Samuel G. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To determine macular pigment (MP) optical density (OD) in patients with ABCA4-associated retinal degenerations (ABCA4-RD) and the response of MP and vision to supplementation with lutein. METHODS. Patients with Stargardt disease or cone-rod dystrophy and known or suspected disease-causing mutations in the ABCA4 gene were included. All patients had foveal fixation. MPOD profiles were measured with heterochromatic flicker photometry. Serum carotenoids, visual acuity, foveal sensitivity, and retinal thickness were quantified. Changes in MPOD and central vision were determined in a subset of patients receiving oral supplementation with lutein for 6 months. RESULTS. MPOD in patients ranged from normal to markedly abnormal. As a group, patients with ABCA4-RD had reduced foveal MPOD, and there was a strong correlation with retinal thickness. Average foveal tissue concentration of MP, estimated by dividing MPOD by retinal thickness, was normal in patients, whereas serum concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin was significantly lower than normal. After oral lutein supplementation for 6 months, 91% of the patients showed significant increases in serum lutein, and 63% of the patients' eyes showed a significant augmentation in MPOD. The retinal responders tended to be female and to have lower serum lutein and zeaxanthin, lower MPOD, and greater retinal thickness at baseline. Responding eyes had significantly lower baseline MP concentration than did non-responding eyes. Central vision was unchanged after the period of supplementation. CONCLUSIONS. MP is strongly affected by the stage of ABCA4 disease leading to abnormal foveal architecture. MP could be augmented by supplemental lutein in some patients. There was no change in central vision after 6 months of lutein supplementation. Long-term influences of this supplement on the natural history of these macular degenerations require further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1319-1329
Number of pages11
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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