Elevated fundus autofluorescence in monkeys deficient in lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids

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19 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. We quantified fundus autofluorescence (FAF) in the nonhuman primate retina as a function of age and diets lacking lutein and zeaxanthin (L/Z) and omega-3 fatty acids. METHODS. Quantitative FAF was measured in a cross-sectional study of rhesus macaques fed a standard diet across the lifespan, and in aged rhesus macaques fed lifelong diets lacking L/Z and providing either adequate or deficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Macular FAF images were segmented into multiple regions of interest, and mean gray values for each region were calculated using ImageJ. The resulting FAF values were compared across ages within the standard diet animals, and among diet groups and regions. RESULTS. Fundus autofluorescence increased with age in the standard diet animals, and was highest in the perifovea. Monkeys fed L/Z-free diets with either adequate or deficient omega-3 fatty acids had significantly higher FAF overall than age-matched standard diet monkeys. Examined by region, those with adequate omega-3 fatty acids had higher FAF in the fovea and superior regions, while monkeys fed the diet lacking L/Z and omega-3 fatty acids had higher FAF in all regions. CONCLUSIONS. Diets devoid of L/Z resulted in increased retinal autofluorescence, with the highest values in animals also lacking omega-3 fatty acids. The increase was equivalent to a 12- to 20-year acceleration in lipofuscin accumulation compared to animals fed a standard diet. Together these data add support for the role of these nutrients as important factors in lipofuscin accumulation, retinal aging, and progression of macular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1361-1369
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Autofluorescence
  • Lipofuscin
  • Lutein
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Zeaxanthin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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