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Macular pigment optical density is related to cognitive function in older people

18 Feb 2014

Background: the xanthophylls lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) exist in relatively high concentration in multiple central nervous tissues (e.g. cortex and neural retina). L + Z in macula (i.e. macular pigment, MP) are thought to serve multiple functions, including protection and improvement of visual performance. Also, L + Z in the macula are related to L + Z in the cortex.

Objective: to determine whether macular pigment optical density (MPOD, L + Z in the macula) is related to cognitive function in older adults.

Methods: participants were older adults (n = 108, 77.6 ± 2.7 years) sampled from the age-related maculopathy ancillary study of the Health Aging and Body Composition Study (Memphis, TN, USA). Serum carotenoids were measured using high performance liquid chromatography. MPOD was assessed using heterochromatic flicker photometry. Eight cognitive tests designed to evaluate several cognitive domains including memory and processing speed were administered. Partial correlation coefficients were computed to determine whether cognitive measures were related to serum L + Z and MPOD.

Results: MPOD levels were significantly associated with better global cognition, verbal learning and fluency, recall, processing speed and perceptual speed, whereas serum L + Z was significantly related to only verbal fluency.

Conclusion: MPOD is related to cognitive function in older people. Its role as a potential biomarker of cognitive function deserves further study.

18 February 2014

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Age and Ageing