Macular pigment is inversely related to circulating C-reactive protein concentrations in school-aged children

Corinne N. Cannavale, Caitlyn G. Edwards, Ruyu Liu, Shelby A. Keye, Samantha J. Iwinski, Hannah D. Holscher, Lisa Renzi-Hammond, Naiman A. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Xanthophyll carotenoids (i.e., lutein and zeaxanthin) are plant pigments that selectively deposit in the macula of the eye and provide retinal tissue with protection against photooxidative stress. Although having greater xanthophylls in various tissues is related to lower inflammation in adulthood and infancy, this relationship is underinvestigated in childhood. Thus, this study aimed to elucidate the relationships between macular xanthophyll status and inflammation in school-aged children. We hypothesized that greater macular pigment would be associated with lower systemic concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP). Forty children (aged 7-12 years) from the East-Central Illinois area were recruited. Data were collected in a convenience sample over multiple visits to the laboratory that occurred over 1 month, including all individuals who provided adequate blood samples for analyses. Macular pigment optical density (MPOD) was assessed using customized heterochromatic flicker photometry. Dietary lutein and zeaxanthin were determined using 7-day diet records. Capillary dried blood spot samples were analyzed for CRP concentrations via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Whole-body percentage fat (%Fat) was measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Two-step hierarchical linear regression modelling was used to assess relationships between MPOD and CRP, following adjustment of pertinent covariates and the removal of outliers (N = 3). MPOD was negatively associated with CRP concentrations, after controlling for a priori covariates of age, sex, %Fat, and dietary lutein and zeaxanthin (β = –0.58, ΔR2 = 0.22, P = .004). Age, sex, dietary lutein and zeaxanthin, and %Fat did not significantly contribute to the model. This study provides novel evidence that macular pigment and peripheral inflammation are inversely related in childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalNutrition Research
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Adiposity
  • Inflammation
  • Lutein
  • Retinal xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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