Absorption and Ocular Deposition of Dietary Lutein in Marine Mammals

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Elizabeth A. Koutsos, Todd Schmitt, Carmen M. H. Colitz, Lisa Mazzaro
Zoo Biology
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Cataracts and ocular disease are common lesions of marine mammals in zoological collections. Lutein, an oxygenated carotenoid, may have therapeutic or prophylactic effects on ocular disorder. Therefore, this study examined the ability of marine mammals to absorb dietary lutein. Two preliminary trials examined lutein in two forms (beadlet or ester) in a small sample size of marine mammals representing pinnipeds and cetaceans. Lutein was fed daily in tablets providing 0.89–3.6 mg lutein/kg body weight0.75 per day for 15 days to 2 years. A third study was conducted using lutein beadlet fed at 3.6 mg lutein/kg body weight0.75 per day for 15–21 days. Blood was analyzed for lutein pre- and postsupplementation. In the preliminary trials, lutein beadlet was observed to result in greater blood lutein levels than lutein esters, and cetaceans had more noticeable responses than pinnipeds. In Study 3, serum lutein and zeaxanthin increased postsupplementation in beluga whales (P < 0.05), and serum lutein tended to increase postsupplementation in dolphins (P < 0.10), but little change was seen in serum lutein in pinnipeds or manatee. Opportunistic retinal samples demonstrated some detectable lutein in the retina of a dolphin and several harp seals. The lutein levels in dolphins after supplementation are similar to those reported in free-ranging animals. Ocular lutein in harp seals demonstrates that ocular deposition occurs despite low circulating lutein levels. Zoo Biol. 32:316–323, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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