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Lymphocyte lycopene concentration and DNA protection from oxidative damage is increased in women after a short period of tomato consumption

April 25, 2000

University of Milan

Porrini M1, Riso P.


Several epidemiologic studies have suggested a role of tomato products in protecting against cancer and chronic diseases. In nine adult women, we evaluated whether the consumption of 25 g tomato puree (containing 7 mg lycopene and 0.3 mg beta-carotene) for 14 consecutive days increased plasma and lymphocyte carotenoid concentration and whether this was related to an improvement in lymphocyte resistance to an oxidative stress (500 micromol/L hydrogen peroxide for 5 min). Before and after the period of tomato intake, carotenoid concentrations were analyzed by HPLC and lymphocyte resistance to oxidative stress by the Comet assay, which detects DNA strand breaks. Intake of tomato puree increased plasma (P <0.001) and lymphocyte (P<0.005) lycopene concentration and reduced lymphocyte DNA damage by approximately 50% (P<0.0001). Beta-carotene concentration increased in plasma (P<0.05) but not in lymphocytes after tomato puree consumption. An inverse relationship was found between plasma lycopene concentration (r = -0.82, P<0.0001) and lymphocyte lycopene concentration (r = -0.62, P<0.01) and the oxidative DNA damage. In conclusion, small amounts of tomato puree added to the diet over a short period can increase carotenoid concentrations and the resistance of lymphocytes to oxidative stress.