It has been well studied that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin play an important role in preserving eye function by directly acting as antioxidants. However, new research indicates that these powerhouses go one important step further. This is through the activation the Nfr2 antioxidant defense network.
Nrf2 is a latent protein in the cell, that when activated, becomes a powerful transcription factor that turn on the Antioxidant Response Element (ARE). ARE is the master antioxidant switch in the cell and provides overwhelming antioxidant response, including increased levels of the potent cellular protector glutathione.
LUTEIN ZEAXANTHIN and MESO ZEAXANTHIN act as both direct antioxidants and as Nrf2 activators. Significantly, this makes their protection capacity for the retina significantly greater than only acting as an antioxidant. Implications of this include more capacity to slow the aging of the eye and preserve vision with aging.
NRF2 CELLULAR PROTECTION:
(1) Frede K, et al. Lutein Activates the Transcription Factor Nrf2 in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2017 Jun 30
(2) Liu H, et al. Protective effect of lutein on ARPE-19 cells upon H2O2-induced G2/M arrest. Mol Med Rep. 2017 Jun 21.
(3) Lima VC, et al. Macular pigment in retinal health and disease. Int J Retina Vitreous. 2016 Aug
(4) Orhan C, et al. Mesozeaxanthin Protects Retina from Oxidative Stress in a Rat Model. Ocul Pharmocol Ther, 2016 Nov
(5) Firdous AP. et al. Anti-inflammatory potential of carotenoid meso-zeaxanthin and its mode of action. Pharm Biol. 2015 Jul;53(7):961-7.
(6) Zou X, et al. Zeaxanthin induces Nrf2-mediated phase II enzymes in protection of cell death. Cell Death Dis, 2014 May