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All-E-(3R,6'R)-3-hydroxy-3',4'-didehydro-beta,gamma-carotene (anhydrolutein I) and all-E-(3R,6'R)-3-hydroxy-2',3'-didehydro-beta,epsilon-carotene (2',3'-anhydrolutein II) have been isolated and characterized from extracts of human plasma using semipreparative high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) on a C18 reversed-phase column. The identification of anhydroluteins was accomplished by comparison of the UV-Vis absorption and mass spectral data as well as HPLC-UV-Vis-mass spectrometry (MS) spiking experiments using fully characterized synthetic compounds. Partial synthesis of anhydroluteins from the reaction of lutein with 2% H2SO4 in acetone, in addition to anhydrolutein I (54%) and 2',3'-anhydrolutein II (19%), also gave (3'R)-3'-hydroxy-3,4-dehydro-beta-carotene (3',4'-anhydrolutein III, 19%). While anhydrolutein I has been shown to be usually accompanied by minute quantities of 2',3'-anhydrolutein II (ca. 7-10%) in human plasma, 3',4'-anhydrolutein III has not been detected. The presence of anhydrolutein I and II in human plasma is postulated to be due to acid catalyzed dehydration of the dietary lutein as it passes through the stomach. These anhydroluteins have also been prepared by conversion of lutein diacetate to the corresponding anhydrolutein acetates followed by alkaline hydrolysis. However, under identical acidic conditions, loss of acetic acid from lutein diacetate proceeded at a much slower rate than dehydration of lutein. The structures of the synthetic anhydroluteins, including their absolute configuration at C(3) and C(6') have been unambiguously established by 1H NMR and in part by 13C NMR, and circular dichroism.


F Khachik, G Englert, G R Beecher, J C Smith. Isolation, structural elucidation, and partial synthesis of lutein dehydration products in extracts from human plasma. Journal of chromatography. B, Biomedical applications. 1995 Aug 18;670(2):219-33

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PMID: 8548012

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