Bio-Farms for Nutraceutics



Bio-Farms for Nutraceutics


Maria Teresa Giardi
Giuseppina Rea
Francesca Vergari
Andrea Margonelli
Amina Antonacci*
Sandro Pastorelli*
Giuseppe Rodio*
Davide Raffi*
Gianni Pezzotti*
Ittalo Pezzotti*
[*] Personale non strutturato


Commessa: PM.P06.017.001 Responsabile MT Giardi. Sintesi sostenibile di composti bioattivi e per biosensing tramite biofarms
Commessa:(AG.P01.011) Responsabile G. REA. Organismi Fotosintetici Ossigenici per Applicazioni Tecnologiche di Interesse Agroalimentare: nutraceutici, biosensori e biochips spaziali


Xanthophylls, macular pigments, protection for macular degeneration

National Institute for Biological Sciences, Romania (; Ruhr-Universität Bochum (; Biosensor Srl (; Orto-Sole Scarl (; Enervit (

Lutein and zeaxanthin belong to a family of phytocompounds defined xanthophylls which are secondary carotenoids containing 40 carbon atoms with cyclic hydroxylated structures at both the ends of the molecule. The difference between lutein and zeaxanthin is the position of a double bond in the hydroxyl groups, which may contribute to their biological function and high antioxidant activity that is 100 times higher than the primary carotenoids such as beta carotene. Unlike other carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin are present in the macular region of the retina, which is why they are called macular pigments (MP) and are considered essential in protecting the retina.
MPs' effects on human body include the improvement of visual function and the protection from photo-induced damages as they act as filters for the blue light and shield short-wave radiation. Epidemiological studies have shown a strong correlation between the levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in eye tissues, serum and blood plasma with a reduced incidence of oxidative stress and of macular degeneration induced by age. MPs cannot be synthesized by the organism and must be introduced with the diet. According to the studies reported in the scientific literature these compounds show a different antioxidant capacity if taken individually or in a mixture with a right ratio. Zeaxanthin and lutein have a reduced antioxidant capacity if recruited individually, but they show a synergic effect in retina protection if recruited in a mixture. Other important xanthophylls for human retina are astaxanthin, anteraxanthin, cryptoxanthin, violaxanthin and rubixanthin.
We study the possibility to protect retina by specific mixture of these antioxidants. The antioxidants are immobilized in particular nutrients (such as alginate). These matrices are studied for their antioxidant power and will be submitted to diffrattometric analysis by means of X-ray to study the relationship between organization/functionality.
The project is funded by ASI-NASA for supporting astronaut's vision.
We developed within the EU project Nutra-Snack a bioreactor called Photobiolab able to grow automatically algae overproducing the macular pigments (for contact,

G Rea, A Antonacci, M Lambreva, C Ambrosi, A Margonelli, MT Giardi. Emergence of the nutritional technology: the Nutra-Snack project, a basic research and biotechnological programme on nutraceutics. T Lavecchia, A Tibuzzi and MT Giardi. Biosensors for functional food safety and analysis in: Bio-Farms for Nutraceuticals: Functional Food and Safety Control by Biosensors LANDES BioScience Publisher 810 S Church St, Georgetown, TX 78626, in press,
T. Lavecchia, A Antonacci, G. Rea, MT Giardi"Plant-Derived Functional Metabolites and the Need of Revealing their Content and Bioactivity in a Complex Food Matrix" Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, in press

Figures: Automatic system for growing macular pigments for protection against macular degeneration

Automatic system for growing macular pigments for protection against macular degeneration - Img



Maria Teresa Giardi
Email :
Tel : +39 06-90672704


Last Updated (Friday, 10 December 2010 15:27)