Chemistry, distribution, and metabolism of tomato carotenoids and their impact on human health.Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2002 Nov; 227(10):845-51.EB
Recent epidemiological studies have suggested that the consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based food products reduce the risk of prostate cancer in humans. This protective effect has been attributed to carotenoids, which are one of the major classes of phytochemicals in this fruit. The most abundant carotenoid in tomato is lycopene, followed by phytoene, phytofluene, zeta-carotene, gamma-carotene, beta-carotene, neurosporene, and lutein. The distribution of lycopene and related carotenoids in tomatoes and tomato-based food products has been determined by extraction and high-performance liquid chromatography-UV/Visible photodiode array detection. Detailed qualitative and quantitative analysis of human serum, milk, and organs, particularly prostate, have revealed the presence of all the aforementioned carotenoids in biologically significant concentrations. Two oxidative metabolites of lycopene, 2,6-cyclolycopene-1,5-diols A and B, which are only present in tomatoes in extremely low concentrations, have been isolated and identified in human serum, milk, organs (liver, lung, breast, liver, prostate, colon) and skin. Carotenoids may also play an important role in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other blinding disorders. Among 25 dietary carotenoids and nine metabolites routinely found in human serum, mainly (3R,3'R,6'R)-lutein, (3R,3'R)-zeaxanthin, lycopene, and their metabolites were detected in ocular tissues. In this review we identified and quantified the complete spectrum of carotenoids from pooled human retinal pigment epithelium, ciliary body, iris, lens, and in the uveal tract and in other tissues of the human eye to gain a better insight into the metabolic pathways of ocular carotenoids. Although (3R,3'R,6'R)-lutein, (3R,3'R)-zeaxanthin, and their metabolites constitute the major carotenoids in human ocular tissues, lycopene and a wide range of dietary carotenoids have been detected in high concentrations in ciliary body and retinal pigment epithelium. The possible role of lycopene and other dietary carotenoids in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases is discussed.