ICS Symposium 2017: taking a closer look at carotenoids

Interview with Professor. em., Dr. h.c. Hanspeter Pfander, University of Bern

The Symposium of the International Carotenoids Society is a longstanding event in the carotenoid calendar. To what does it owe its success?

Increasing awareness of the importance of carotenoids as essential micronutrients and food colorants has led to growing interest in the field. Developed in response to evolving scientific interest in this area, the symposium, hosted by the International Carotenoids Society, takes place every three years. Its first edition dates back to 1966 in Trondheim! The meeting brings together top scientists from around the world, and from a variety of disciplines in academia, government and industry. Dedicated to the latest developments in the science behind carotenoids, the symposium has a very important role in highlighting the importance of carotenoids in human health.

So, what role do carotenoids play in human health?

Consumption of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene − which plays an essential role as the main dietary source of vitamin A – as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, have been associated with many health benefits, for both humans and animals. The primary benefit of carotenoids lies in their antioxidant potential. Lutein and zeaxanthin, for example, are non-provitamin A carotenoids found in dark green, leafy vegetables, and are also the major carotenoids found in the macula and lens. The two carotenoids have been linked to being protective against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, serving a unique role in protecting against eye disease. This could be attributed to the fact that both the retina and lens can suffer from oxidative stress, and antioxidants can protect against such damage.[1] In addition to eye health, carotenoids have been scientifically linked to reduced risks of cancers, coronary heart disease - by blocking the formation of LDL, and new research is indicating benefits in cognitive function.

What can we expect from ICS Symposium this year?

The symposium offers an exciting scientific program and a unique platform for scientists and researchers dedicated to the field of carotenoids to share new insights, paving the way for future collaboration and research. Attendees can expect to receive highlights from the latest scientific studies on carotenoids.

The symposium will also host the Young Investigators Forum − a new initiative offering an exclusive opportunity for young investigators to engage with thought leaders in carotenoid research, in a small group setting that prepares them to expand their research.

Over 250 delegates are expected to attend this year’s meeting, held on 9-14 July and hosted at the modern Congress Center in the beautiful city Lucerne, Switzerland. For more information, email info.icslucerne2017[at] or register at


[1] International Carotenoid Society, Carotenoids & Health Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111 USA, 2016, ‘Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the Protection Against Eye Disease’ [website], (accessed 18 May 2017).