You are using an unsupported browser. Please upgrade your browser to a newer version to get the best experience on Human Metabolome Database.
Record Information
Creation Date2006-05-22 15:12:10 UTC
Update Date2017-08-16 04:03:15 UTC
Secondary Accession Numbers
  • HMDB02789
Metabolite Identification
Common NameZeaxanthin
DescriptionZeaxanthin is a carotenoid xanthophyll and is one of the most common carotenoid found in nature. It is the pigment that gives corn, saffron, and many other plants their characteristic color. Zeaxanthin breaks down to form picrocrocin and safranal, which are responsible for the taste and aroma of saffron Carotenoids are among the most common pigments in nature and are natural lipid soluble antioxidants. Zeaxanthin is one of the two carotenoids (the other is lutein) that accumulate in the eye lens and macular region of the retina with concentrations in the macula greater than those found in plasma and other tissues. Lutein and zeaxanthin have identical chemical formulas and are isomers, but they are not stereoisomers. The main difference between them is in the location of a double bond in one of the end rings. This difference gives lutein three chiral centers whereas zeaxanthin has two. A relationship between macular pigment optical density, a marker of lutein and zeaxanthin concentration in the macula, and lens optical density, an antecedent of cataractous changes, has been suggested. The xanthophylls may act to protect the eye from ultraviolet phototoxicity via quenching reactive oxygen species and/or other mechanisms. Some observational studies have shown that generous intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin, particularly from certain xanthophyll-rich foods like spinach, broccoli and eggs, are associated with a significant reduction in the risk for cataract (up to 20%) and for age-related macular degeneration (up to 40%). While the pathophysiology of cataract and age-related macular degeneration is complex and contains both environmental and genetic components, research studies suggest dietary factors including antioxidant vitamins and xanthophylls may contribute to a reduction in the risk of these degenerative eye diseases. Further research is necessary to confirm these observations. (PMID: 11023002 ).
Xanthophyll 3HMDB
Beta Carotene 3,3' diolMeSH
3R,3'r ZeaxanthinMeSH
Chemical FormulaC40H56O2
Average Molecular Weight568.886
Monoisotopic Molecular Weight568.428031043
IUPAC Name(1R)-4-[(1E,3E,5E,7E,9E,11E,13E,15E,17E)-18-[(4R)-4-hydroxy-2,6,6-trimethylcyclohex-1-en-1-yl]-3,7,12,16-tetramethyloctadeca-1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17-nonaen-1-yl]-3,5,5-trimethylcyclohex-3-en-1-ol
Traditional Namezeaxanthin
CAS Registry Number144-68-3
InChI Identifier
Chemical Taxonomy
DescriptionThis compound belongs to the class of organic compounds known as xanthophylls. These are carotenoids containing an oxygenated carotene backbone. Carotenes are characterized by the presence of two end-groups (mostly cyclohexene rings, but also cyclopentene rings or acyclic groups) linked by a long branched alkyl chain. Carotenes belonging form a subgroup of the carotenoids family. Xanthophylls arise by oxygenation of the carotene backbone.
KingdomOrganic compounds
Super ClassLipids and lipid-like molecules
ClassPrenol lipids
Sub ClassTetraterpenoids
Direct ParentXanthophylls
Alternative Parents
  • Xanthophyll
  • Secondary alcohol
  • Organic oxygen compound
  • Hydrocarbon derivative
  • Organooxygen compound
  • Alcohol
  • Aliphatic homomonocyclic compound
Molecular FrameworkAliphatic homomonocyclic compounds
External Descriptors
StatusDetected and Quantified
  • Food
  • Microbial
  • Plant
  • Cell signaling
  • Fuel and energy storage
  • Fuel or energy source
  • Membrane integrity/stability
  • Nutrients
  • Stabilizers
  • Surfactants and Emulsifiers
Cellular locations
  • Extracellular
  • Membrane (predicted from logP)
Physical Properties
Experimental Properties
Melting Point215.5 °CNot Available
Boiling PointNot AvailableNot Available
Water SolubilityNot AvailableNot Available
LogPNot AvailableNot Available
Predicted Properties
Water Solubility0.000649 mg/mLALOGPS
pKa (Strongest Acidic)18.91ChemAxon
pKa (Strongest Basic)-0.79ChemAxon
Physiological Charge0ChemAxon
Hydrogen Acceptor Count2ChemAxon
Hydrogen Donor Count2ChemAxon
Polar Surface Area40.46 Å2ChemAxon
Rotatable Bond Count10ChemAxon
Refractivity194.95 m3·mol-1ChemAxon
Polarizability73.47 Å3ChemAxon
Number of Rings2ChemAxon
Rule of FiveYesChemAxon
Ghose FilterYesChemAxon
Veber's RuleYesChemAxon
MDDR-like RuleYesChemAxon
Spectrum TypeDescriptionSplash Key
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, PositiveNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, PositiveNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, PositiveNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, NegativeNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, NegativeNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, NegativeNot Available
Biological Properties
Cellular Locations
  • Extracellular
  • Membrane (predicted from logP)
Biofluid Locations
  • Blood
Tissue Location
  • Adipose Tissue
  • Eye Lens
  • Lens
  • Retina
  • Spleen
PathwaysNot Available
Normal Concentrations
BloodDetected and Quantified0.032 +/- 0.023 uMAdult (>18 years old)Both
BloodDetected and Quantified0.04 +/- 0.04 uMAdult (>18 years old)BothNormal details
Abnormal Concentrations
Not Available
Associated Disorders and Diseases
Disease ReferencesNone
Associated OMIM IDsNone
DrugBank IDNot Available
DrugBank Metabolite IDNot Available
Phenol Explorer Compound IDNot Available
Phenol Explorer Metabolite IDNot Available
FoodDB IDFDB019865
KNApSAcK IDC00000931
Chemspider ID4444421
KEGG Compound IDC06098
BioCyc IDCPD1F-130
BiGG IDNot Available
Wikipedia LinkZeaxanthin
NuGOwiki LinkHMDB0002789
PubChem Compound5280899
PDB IDNot Available
ChEBI ID27547
Synthesis ReferencePaus, Joachim; Kriegl, Wolfgang. Process for the preparation of zeaxanthin and its intermediates. Eur. Pat. Appl. (1998), 19 pp.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)Download (PDF)
General References
  1. Wenzel AJ, Gerweck C, Barbato D, Nicolosi RJ, Handelman GJ, Curran-Celentano J: A 12-wk egg intervention increases serum zeaxanthin and macular pigment optical density in women. J Nutr. 2006 Oct;136(10):2568-73. [PubMed:16988128 ]
  2. Rapp LM, Maple SS, Choi JH: Lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in rod outer segment membranes from perifoveal and peripheral human retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2000 Apr;41(5):1200-9. [PubMed:10752961 ]
  3. Khachik F, Bernstein PS, Garland DL: Identification of lutein and zeaxanthin oxidation products in human and monkey retinas. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1997 Aug;38(9):1802-11. [PubMed:9286269 ]
  4. Handelman GJ, Nightingale ZD, Lichtenstein AH, Schaefer EJ, Blumberg JB: Lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in plasma after dietary supplementation with egg yolk. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Aug;70(2):247-51. [PubMed:10426702 ]
  5. Dasch B, Fuhs A, Schmidt J, Behrens T, Meister A, Wellmann J, Fobker M, Pauleikhoff D, Hense HW: Serum levels of macular carotenoids in relation to age-related maculopathy: the Muenster Aging and Retina Study (MARS). Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2005 Oct;243(10):1028-35. Epub 2005 Oct 20. [PubMed:15909159 ]
  6. Bone RA, Landrum JT, Friedes LM, Gomez CM, Kilburn MD, Menendez E, Vidal I, Wang W: Distribution of lutein and zeaxanthin stereoisomers in the human retina. Exp Eye Res. 1997 Feb;64(2):211-8. [PubMed:9176055 ]
  7. Chitchumroonchokchai C, Failla ML: Hydrolysis of zeaxanthin esters by carboxyl ester lipase during digestion facilitates micellarization and uptake of the xanthophyll by Caco-2 human intestinal cells. J Nutr. 2006 Mar;136(3):588-94. [PubMed:16484529 ]
  8. Khachik F: An efficient conversion of (3R,3'R,6'R)-lutein to (3R,3'S,6'R)-lutein (3'-epilutein) and (3R,3'R)-zeaxanthin. J Nat Prod. 2003 Jan;66(1):67-72. [PubMed:12542348 ]
  9. Hammond BR Jr, Wooten BR, Snodderly DM: Density of the human crystalline lens is related to the macular pigment carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Optom Vis Sci. 1997 Jul;74(7):499-504. [PubMed:9293517 ]
  10. Johnson EJ, Hammond BR, Yeum KJ, Qin J, Wang XD, Castaneda C, Snodderly DM, Russell RM: Relation among serum and tissue concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin and macular pigment density. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1555-62. [PubMed:10837298 ]
  11. Mares-Perlman JA, Millen AE, Ficek TL, Hankinson SE: The body of evidence to support a protective role for lutein and zeaxanthin in delaying chronic disease. Overview. J Nutr. 2002 Mar;132(3):518S-524S. [PubMed:11880585 ]
  12. Sies H, Stahl W: Non-nutritive bioactive constituents of plants: lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2003 Mar;73(2):95-100. [PubMed:12747216 ]
  13. Moeller SM, Jacques PF, Blumberg JB: The potential role of dietary xanthophylls in cataract and age-related macular degeneration. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000 Oct;19(5 Suppl):522S-527S. [PubMed:11023002 ]