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."