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Lycopene Deficiency in Ageing and Cardiovascular Disease

June 6, 2016

Lycotec Ltd., Granta Park Campus, Cambridge CB21 6GP, UK

Ivan M. Petyaev



Lycopene is a hydrocarbon phytochemical belonging to the tetraterpene carotenoid family and is found in red fruit and vegetables. Eleven conjugated double bonds predetermine the antioxidant properties of lycopene and its ability to scavenge lipid peroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, and nitric oxide. Lycopene has a low bioavailability rate and appears in the blood circulation incorporated into chylomicrons and other apo-B containing lipoproteins. The recent body of evidence suggests that plasma concentration of lycopene is not only a function of intestinal absorption rate but also lycopene breakdown via enzymatic and oxidative pathways in blood and tissues. Oxidative stress and the accumulation of reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide may represent a major cause of lycopene depletion in ageing, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. It has been shown recently that low carotenoid levels, and especially decreased serum lycopene levels, are strongly predictive of all-cause mortality and poor outcomes of cardiovascular disease. However, there is a poor statistical association between dietary and serum lycopene levels which occurs due to limited bioavailability of lycopene from dietary sources. Hence, it is very unlikely that nutritional intervention alone could be instrumental in the correction of lycopene and carotenoid deficiency. Therefore, new nutraceutical formulations of carotenoids with enhanced bioavailability are urgently needed.