Daily intake of a formulated tomato drink affects carotenoid plasma and lymphocyte concentrations and improves cellular antioxidant protection.

April 13, 2005

University of Milan

Porrini M1, Riso P, Brusamolino A, Berti C, Guarnieri S, Visioli F.

Abstract

The salutary characteristics of the tomato are normally related to its content of carotenoids, especially lycopene, and other antioxidants. Our purpose was to verify whether the daily intake of a beverage prototype called Lyc-o-Mato((R)) containing a natural tomato extract (Lyc-o-Mato((R)) oleoresin 6 %) was able to modify plasma and lymphocyte carotenoid concentrations, particularly those of lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene and beta-carotene, and to evaluate whether this intake was sufficient to improve protection against DNA damage in lymphocytes. In a double-blind, cross-over study, twenty-six healthy subjects consumed 250 ml of the drink daily, providing about 6 mg lycopene, 4 mg phytoene, 3 mg phytofluene, 1 mg beta-carotene and 1.8 mg alpha-tocopherol, or a placebo drink. Treatments were separated by a wash-out period. Plasma and lymphocyte carotenoid and alpha-tocopherol concentrations were determined by HPLC, and DNA damage by the comet assay. After 26 d of consumption of the drink, plasma carotenoid levels increased significantly: concentrations of lycopene were 1.7-fold higher (P<0.0001); of phytofluene were 1.6-fold higher (P<0.0001); of phytoene were doubled (P<0.0005); of beta-carotene were 1.3-fold higher (P<0.05). Lymphocyte carotenoid concentrations also increased significantly: that of lycopene doubled (P<0.001); that of phytofluene was 1.8-fold higher (P<0.005); that of phytoene was 2.6-fold higher (P<0.005); that of beta-carotene was 1.5-fold higher (P<0.01). In contrast, the alpha-tocopherol concentration remained nearly constant. The intake of the tomato drink significantly reduced (by about 42 %) DNA damage (P<0.0001) in lymphocytes subjected to oxidative stress. In conclusion, the present study supports the fact that a low intake of carotenoids from tomato products improves cell antioxidant protection.