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Annu Rev Nutr. 2010 Aug 21;30:35-56. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-080508-141027.

Colors with functions: elucidating the biochemical and molecular basis of carotenoid metabolism.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4965, USA.


Carotenoids affect a rich variety of physiological functions in nature and are beneficial for human health, serving as antioxidants in lipophilic environments and blue light filters in the macula of human retina. These dietary compounds also serve as precursors of a unique set of apo-carotenoid cleavage products, including retinoids. Although knowledge about retinoid biology has tremendously increased, the metabolism of retinoids' parent precursors remains poorly understood. Recently, molecular players in carotenoid metabolism have been identified and biochemically characterized. Moreover, mutations in their corresponding genes impair carotenoid metabolism and induce various pathologies in animal models. Polymorphisms in these genes alter carotenoid and retinoid homeostasis in humans as well. This review summarizes our current knowledge about the molecular/biochemical basis of carotenoid metabolism and particularly the physiological role of carotenoids in retinoid-dependent physiological processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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