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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 951786, 13 pages
Research Article

Relationship between Serum and Brain Carotenoids, -Tocopherol, and Retinol Concentrations and Cognitive Performance in the Oldest Old from the Georgia Centenarian Study

1Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA
2University of Georgia-Athens, Athens, GA 30602, USA
3Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
4Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
5Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
6Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
7University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536, USA
8Yonsei University, Seoul 120-749, Republic of Korea
9DSM Nutritional Products, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland

Received 4 January 2013; Revised 5 April 2013; Accepted 28 April 2013

Academic Editor: Paula Bickford

Copyright © 2013 Elizabeth J. Johnson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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, -tocopherol, and retinol using HPLC. Analyte concentrations were compared with cognitive tests designed to evaluate global cognition, dementia, depression and cognitive domains (memory, processing speed, attention, and executive functioning). Serum lutein, zeaxanthin, and -carotene concentrations were most consistently related to better cognition ( ) in the whole population and in the centenarians. Only serum lutein was significantly related to better cognition in the octogenarians. In brain, lutein and -carotene were related to cognition with lutein being consistently associated with a range of measures. There were fewer significant relationships for -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 -tocopherol was less related to cognition than these carotenoids.