Lycopene and β-Carotene

Bioavailability and Biological Effects
  • Helmut Sies
  • Wilhelm Stahl
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 296)


Carotenoids are widespread natural colorants with lipophilic properties, and more than 600 different compounds have been identified until know, with ²-carotene as the most prominent (Olson and Krinsky, 1995); structures of ²-carotene and its acyclic analog lycopene are shown in Fig. 1. Most carotenoids contain an extended system of conjugated double bonds, which is responsible for their color. Carotenoids can be divided in two classes, carotenes which are solely composed of carbon and hydrogen, and oxocarotenoids (xanthophylls) which contain at least one oxygen atom. From a biochemical point of view, carotenoids are grouped as provitamin A and non-provitamin A compounds. The provitamin A carotenoids ²-carotene, α-carotene, and ß-cryptoxanthin may serve as precursors of retinol and are capable of preventing classical vitamin A deficiency diseases such as xerophthalmia. The biosynthesis of carotenoids is limited to plants and some lower organisms (Young and Britton, 1993), whereas animals are provided with carotenoids from the diet. Important dietary sources of carotenoids for the human are green leafy and orange to red vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes as well as various fruits such as oranges, tangerines, or peaches (Gross, 1987; Gross 1991). More than 35 different carotenoids have been identified in human plasma (Khachik, et al., 1995).


Peroxyl Radical Tomato Juice Singlet Molecular Oxygen Erythropoietic Protoporphyria Lycopene Level 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helmut Sies
    • 1
  • Wilhelm Stahl
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Physiologische Chemie IHeinrich-Heine-Universität DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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