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Photochem Photobiol. 2002 May;75(5):503-6.

Divergent optimum levels of lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein protecting against UVB irradiation in human fibroblastst.

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Institut für Physiologische Chemie I and Biologisch-Medizinisches Forschunggzentrum, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany.


Exposure of living organisms to UV light leads to photooxidative reactions. Peroxyl radicals are involved in the propagation of lipid peroxidation. Carotenoids are dietary antioxidants and show photoprotective effects in human skin, efficiently scavenging peroxyl radicals and inhibiting lipid peroxidation. Cultured human skin fibroblasts were used to examine the protective effects of the carotenoids, lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein on UVB-induced lipid peroxidation. The carotenoids were delivered to the cells using liposomes as the vehicle. The cells were exposed to UVB light for 20 min. Lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein were capable of decreasing UV-induced formation of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances at 1 h to levels 40-50% of controls free of carotenoids. The amounts of carotenoid needed for optimal protection were divergent at 0.05, 0.40 and 0.30 nmol/mg protein for lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein, respectively. Beyond the optimum levels, further increases of carotenoid levels in cells led to prooxidant effects.

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