Skip to main content


Effects of lutein or lutein in combination with vitamin C on mRNA expression and activity of antioxidant enzymes and status of the antioxidant system in SD rats


This study was conducted to investigate the effects of lutein alone or in combination with vitamin C on the antioxidant defense system in rats. A total of 18 eight-week-old male Sprague Dawley (SD) rats were randomly assigned to three groups for 4 weeks: control (CON), lutein (LUT, 50 mg lutein/kg BW) and lutein plus vitamin C (LVC, 50 mg lutein/kg BW+1,000 mg vitamin C/kg BW). No differences in body weight, relative live weight or plasma biochemical profiles were observed among treatment groups. In the hepatic antioxidant defense systems, the mRNA expression of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the LUT and LVC groups was significantly (P<0.05) higher than that in the CON group, whereas the mRNA level of glutathione peroxidase (GPX), catalase (CAT) and glutathione S-transferase (GST) was not affected by the administration of antioxidants. SOD and GST activities in the LUT and LVC groups were significantly higher (P<0.05) than those in the CON group, whereas GPX, CAT and lipid peroxidation did not differ among groups. In addition, the LVC group showed a significant (P<0.05) increase in plasma and hepatic total antioxidant power (TAP) relative to the CON group. Overall, administration of lutein in combination with vitamin C improved the status of the total antioxidant defense system in SD rats.


  1. 1.

    Berendschot TT, Goldbohm RA, Klöpping WA, van de Kraats J, van Norel J, van Norren D. Influence of lutein supplementation on macular pigment, assessed with two objective techniques. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2000; 41(11): 3322–3326.

  2. 2.

    Ahmed SS, Lott MN, Marcus DM. The macular xanthophylls. Surv Ophthalmol 2005; 50(2): 183–193.

  3. 3.

    Alves-Rodrigues A, Shao A. The science behind lutein. Toxicol Lett 2004; 150(1): 57–83.

  4. 4.

    Bone RA, Landrum JT, Cains A. Optical density spectra of the macular pigment in vivo and in vitro. Vision Res 1992; 32(1): 105–110.

  5. 5.

    Lim BP, Nagao A, Terao J, Tanaka K, Suzuki T, Takama K. Antioxidant activity of xanthophylls on peroxyl radical-mediated phospholipid peroxidation. Biochim Biophys Acta 1992; 1126(2): 178–184.

  6. 6.

    Wang M, Tsao R, Zhang S, Dong Z, Yang R, Gong J, Pei Y. Antioxidant activity, mutagenicity/anti-mutagenicity, and clastogenicity/anti-clastogenicity of lutein from marigold flowers. Food Chem Toxicol 2006; 44(9): 1522–1529.

  7. 7.

    Bartlett HE, Eperjesi F. Effect of lutein and antioxidant dietary supplementation on contrast sensitivity in age-related macular disease: a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007; 61(9): 1121–1127.

  8. 8.

    Leeson S, Caston L. Enrichment of eggs with lutein. Poult Sci 2004; 83(10): 1709–1712.

  9. 9.

    Mamatha BS, Baskaran V. Effect of micellar lipids, dietary fiber and β-carotene on lutein bioavailability in aged rats with lutein deficiency. Nutrition 2011; 27(9): 960–966.

  10. 10.

    Lakshminarayana R, Raju M, Keshava Prakash MN, Baskaran V. Phospholipid, oleic acid micelles and dietary olive oil influence the lutein absorption and activity of antioxidant enzymes in rats. Lipids 2009; 44(9): 799–806.

  11. 11.

    Shanmugasundaram R, Selvaraj RK. Lutein supplementation alters inflammatory cytokine production and antioxidant status in F-line turkeys. Poult Sci 2011; 90(5): 971–976.

  12. 12.

    Blakely S, Herbert A, Collins M, Jenkins M, Mitchell G, Grundel E, O’Neill KR, Khachik F. Lutein interacts with ascorbic acid more frequently than with alpha-tocopherol to alter biomarkers of oxidative stress in female zucker obese rats. J Nutr 2003; 133(9): 2838–2848.

  13. 13.

    Tauler P, Aguiló A, Fuentespina E, Tur JA, Pons A. Diet supplementation with vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene cocktail enhances basal neutrophil antioxidant enzymes in athletes. Pflugers Arch 2002; 443(5-6): 791–797.

  14. 14.

    Taylor A, Jacques PF, Chylack LT Jr, Hankinson SE, Khu PM, Rogers G, Friend J, Tung W, Wolfe JK, Padhye N, Willett WC. Long-term intake of vitamins and carotenoids and odds of early age-related cortical and posterior subcapsular lens opacities. Am J Clin Nutr 2002; 75(3): 540–549.

  15. 15.

    Reboul E, Thap S, Tourniaire F, Andre M, Juhel C, Morange S, Amiot MJ, Lairon D, Borel P. Differential effect of dietary antioxidant classes (carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamins C and E) on lutein absorption. Br J Nutr 2007; 97(3): 440–446.

  16. 16.

    Livak KJ, Schmittgen TD. Analysis of relative gene expression data using real-time quantitative PCR and the 2(-Delta Delta C(T)) Method. Method 2001; 25(4): 402–408.

  17. 17.

    Fridovich I. Superoxide dismutase. Enzymology 1974; 41: 36–40.

  18. 18.

    Tappel AL. Glutathione peroxidase and hydroperoxides. Methods Enzymol 1978; 52: 506–513.

  19. 19.

    Habig WH, Pabst MJ, Jakoby WB. Glutathione S-transferases. The first enzymatic step in mercapturic acid formation. J Biol Chem 1974; 249(22): 7130–7139.

  20. 20.

    Bidlack WR, Tappel AL. Damage to microsomal membrane by lipid peroxidation. Lipids 1973; 8(4): 177–182.

  21. 21.

    Giannini E, Botta F, Fasoli A, Ceppa P, Risso D, Lantieri PB, Celle G, Testa R. Progressive liver functional impairment is associated with an increase in AST/ALT ratio. Dig Dis Sci 1999; 44(6): 1249–1253.

  22. 22.

    Kim JE, Clark RM, Park Y, Lee J, Fernandez ML. Lutein decreases oxidative stress and inflammation in liver and eyes of guinea pigs fed a hypercholesterolemic diet. Nutr Res Pract 2012; 6(2): 113–119.

  23. 23.

    Bhattacharyya S, Datta S, Mallick B, Dhar P, Ghosh S. Lutein content and in vitro antioxidant activity of different cultivars of Indian marigold flower (Tagetes patula L.) extracts. J Agric Food Chem 2010; 58(14): 8259–8264.

  24. 24.

    Hayes JE, Stepanyan V, Allen P, O’Grady MN, O’Brien NM, Kerry J P. The effect of lutein, sesamol, ellagic acid and olive leaf extract on lipid oxidation and oxymyoglobin oxidation in bovine and porcine muscle model systems. Meat Sci 2009; 83(2): 201–208.

  25. 25.

    Sindhu ER, Preethi KC, Kuttan R. Antioxidant activity of carotenoid lutein in vitro and in vivo. Indian J Exp Biol 2010; 48(8): 843–848.

  26. 26.

    Serpeloni JM, Colus IM, de Oliveira FS, Aissa AF, Mercadante AZ, Bianchi ML, Antunes LM. Diet carotenoid lutein modulates the expression of genes related to oxygen transporters and decreases DNA damage and oxidative stress in mice. Food Chem Toxicol 2014; 70: 205–213.

  27. 27.

    Jewell C, O’Brien NM. Effect of dietary supplementation with carotenoids on xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes in the liver, lung, kidney and small intestine of the rat. Br J Nutr 1999; 81(3): 235–242.

  28. 28.

    Hininger IA, Meyer-Wenger A, Moser U, Wright A, Southon S, Thurnham D, Chopra M, Van Den Berg H, Olmedilla B, Favier AE, Roussel AM. No significant effects of lutein, lycopene or beta-carotene supplementation on biological markers of oxidative stress and LDL oxidizability in healthy adult subjects. J Am Coll Nutr 2001; 20(3): 232–238.

  29. 29.

    Wang S, Wang M, Zhang S, Zhao L. Oxidative stress in rats with hyperhomo-cysteinemia and intervention effect of lutein. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2014; 18(3): 359–364.

  30. 30.

    Arnal E, Miranda M, Barcia J, Bosch-Morell F, Romero FJ. Lutein and docosahexaenoic acid prevent cortex lipid peroxidation in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat cerebral cortex. Neuroscience 2010; 166(1): 271–278.

  31. 31.

    Sindhu ER, Firdous AP, Preethi KC, Kuttan R. Carotenoid lutein protects rats from paracetamol-, carbon tetrachloride- and ethanol-induced hepatic damage. J Pharm Pharmacol 2010; 62(8): 1054–1060.

  32. 32.

    Yun SH, Moon YS, Sohn SH, Jang IS. Effects of cyclic heat stress or vitamin C supplementation during cyclic heat stress on HSP70, inflammatory cytokines, and the antioxidant defense system in Sprague Dawley rats. Exp Anim 2012; 61(5): 543–553.

  33. 33.

    Mustacich DJ, Bruno RS, Traber M G. Vitamin E. Vitam Horm 2007; 76: 1–21.

  34. 34.

    Traber MG, Atkinson J. Vitamin E, antioxidant and nothing more. Free Radic Biol Med 2007; 43(1): 4–15.

  35. 35.

    Sen A, Marsche G, Freudenberger P, Schallert M, Toeglhofer AM, Nagl C, Schmidt R, Launer LJ, Schmidt H. Association between higher plasma lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C concentrations and longer telomere length: results of the Austrian Stroke Prevention Study. J Am Geriatr Soc 2014; 62(2): 222–229.

  36. 36.

    Wang Y, Yang M, Lee S G, Davis C G, Koo SI, Chun OK. Dietary total antioxidant capacity is associated with diet and plasma antioxidant status in healthy young adults. J Acad Nutr Diet 2012; 112(10): 1626–1635.

  37. 37.

    Tanumihardjo SA, Li J, Dosti M P. Lutein absorption is facilitated with cosupplementation of ascorbic acid in young adults. J Am Diet Assoc 2005; 105(1): 114–118.

Download references


This work was supported by Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology Grant 2014. The authors also thank to the technical support of the Regional Animal Research Center (RAIC) at GNTECH.

Author information

Correspondence to In-Surk Jang.

Rights and permissions

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Song, M., Shin, E., Hwang, D. et al. Effects of lutein or lutein in combination with vitamin C on mRNA expression and activity of antioxidant enzymes and status of the antioxidant system in SD rats. Lab Anim Res 31, 117–124 (2015).

Download citation


  • Lutein
  • lutein plus vitamin C
  • antioxidant enzymes
  • lipid peroxidation
  • total antioxidant power