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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DIETARY CAROTENOIDS, RETINOIDS, AND BIOACTIVATES ON HEALTHY AGING

Location: Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging

Title: Relationship between serum and brain carotenoids, a-tocopherol and retinol concentrations and cognitive performance in the oldest old from the Georgia Centenarian Study

Authors
item Johnson, Elizabeth -
item Vishwanathan, Rohini -
item Johnson, Mary Ann -
item Hausman, Dorothy -
item Davey, Adam -
item Scott, Tammy -
item Green, Robert -
item Miller, L. Stephen -
item Gearing, Marla -
item Woodward, John -
item Nelson, Peter -
item Chung, Hae-Yun -
item Schalch, Wolfgang -
item Wittwer, Jonas -
item Poon, Leonard -

Submitted to: Journal of Aging Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 28, 2013
Publication Date: June 19, 2013
Citation: Johnson, E.J., Vishwanathan, R., Johnson, M., Hausman, D.B., Davey, A., Scott, T.M., Green, R.C., Miller, L., Gearing, M., Woodward, J., Nelson, P.T., Chung, H., Schalch, W., Wittwer, J., Poon, L.W. 2013. Relationship between serum and brain carotenoids, a-tocopherol and retinol concentrations and cognitive performance in the oldest old from the Georgia Centenarian Study. Journal of Aging Research. DOI:10.1155/2013/951786.

Interpretive Summary: Fruit and vegetable intake has been associated with cognitive health in the elderly. Carotenoids are pigments contained in fruits and vegetables. Decreased antioxidants in diet and in the body are related to age-related cognitive decline. Carotenoids are major dietary antioxidants. In this study, blood samples were obtained from 78 octogenarians and 220 centenarians and brain tissue were obtained from deceased centenarians (n = 47, for comparison) and measured for carotenoids and their levels were compared with a variety of cognitive tests. In the total study population, blood levels of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene were most consistently related to better cognitive performance. This remained true for the centenarians but only lutein remained significantly related to better measures of cognitive performance in the octogenarians. Among the carotenoids only higher lutein and beta-carotene in the brain were related to higher cognitive function and only lutein was consistently associated with a wide range of cognitive measures. Our findings suggest that concentrations of certain carotenoids in serum and brain in the elderly may reflect their cognitive status.

Technical Abstract: Oxidative stress is involved in age-related cognitive decline. The dietary antioxidants, carotenoids, tocopherols and vitamin A may play a role in the prevention or delay in cognitive decline. In this study sera were obtained from 78 octogenarians and 220 centenarians from the Georgia Centenarian Study. Brain tissues were obtained from 47 centenarian decedents. Samples were analyzed for carotenoids, alpha-tocopherol and retinol using HPLC. Analyte concentrations were compared with cognitive tests designed to evaluate global cognition, dementia, depression as well as cognitive domains (memory, processing speed, attention, executive functioning). Serum lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene concentrations were most consistently related to better cognition (P <0.05) in the whole population and in the centenarians. Only serum lutein was significantly related to better cognition in the octogenarians. In brain, lutein and beta-carotene were related to cognition with lutein being consistently associated with a range of measures. There were fewer significant relationships for alpha-tocopherol and a negative relationship between brain retinol concentrations and delayed recognition. These findings suggest that the status of certain carotenoids in the old may reflect their cognitive function. The protective effect may not be related to an antioxidant effect given that alpha-tocopherol was less related to cognition than these carotenoids.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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