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Antioxid Redox Signal. 2000 Fall;2(3):491-506.

Lycopene synergistically inhibits LDL oxidation in combination with vitamin E, glabridin, rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, or garlic.

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Lipid Research Laboratory, Technion Faculty of Medicine, The Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences and Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.


Several lines of evidence suggest that oxidatively modified low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is atherogenic, and that atherosclerosis can be attenuated by natural antioxidants, which inhibit LDL oxidation. This study was conducted to determine the effect of tomato lycopene alone, or in combination with other natural antioxidants, on LDL oxidation. LDL (100 microg of protein/ml) was incubated with increasing concentrations of lycopene or of tomato oleoresin (lipid extract of tomatoes containing 6% lycopene, 0.1% beta-carotene, 1% vitamin E, and polyphenols), after which it was oxidized by the addition of 5 micromol/liter of CuSO4. Tomato oleoresin exhibited superior capacity to inhibit LDL oxidation in comparison to pure lycopene, by up to five-fold [97% vs. 22% inhibition of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) formation, and 93% vs. 27% inhibition of lipid peroxides formation, respectively]. Because tomato oleoresin also contains, in addition to lycopene, vitamin E, flavonoids, and phenolics, a possible cooperative interaction between lycopene and such natural antioxidants was studied. A combination of lycopene (5 micromol/liter) with vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) in the concentration range of 1-10 micromol/liter resulted in an inhibition of copper ion-induced LDL oxidation that was significantly greater than the expected additive individual inhibitions. The synergistic antioxidative effect of lycopene with vitamin E was not shared by gamma-to-cotrienol. The polyphenols glabridin (derived from licorice), rosmarinic acid or carnosic acid (derived from rosemary), as well as garlic (which contains a mixture of natural antioxidants) inhibited LDL oxidation in a dose-dependent manner. When lycopene (5 micromol/liter) was added to LDL in combination with glabridin, rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, or garlic, synergistic antioxidative effects were obtained against LDL oxidation induced either by copper ions or by the radical generator AAPH. Similar interactive effects seen with lycopene were also observed with beta-carotene, but, however, to a lesser extent of synergism. Because natural antioxidants exist in nature in combination, the in vivo relevance of lycopene in combination with other natural antioxidants was studied. Four healthy subjects were administered a fatty meal containing 30 mg of lycopene in the form of tomato oleoresin. The lycopene concentration in postprandial plasma was elevated by 70% in comparison to plasma obtained before meal consumption. Postprandial LDL isolated 5 hr after meal consumption exhibited a significant (p < 0.01) reduced susceptibility to oxidation by 21%. We conclude that lycopene acts synergistically, as an effective antioxidant against LDL oxidation, with several natural antioxidants such as vitamin E, the flavonoid glabridin, the phenolics rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, and garlic. These observations suggest a superior antiatherogenic characteristic to a combination of different natural antioxidants over that of an individual one.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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