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J Med Food. 2010 Dec;13(6):1443-50. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2009.0277. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

Antimutagenic effects of lycopene and tomato purée.

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  • 1Department of General Biology and Genetics, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.


Several health benefits, including protection from tumors at various anatomic sites, such as the lungs, stomach, and prostate gland, have been attributed to tomatoes and tomato-based products. Among tomato carotenoids, lycopene is the most active antioxidant, although it has many other biological effects, but data on its antimutagenic effects are scarce and often discrepant. The aim of our work was to determine the protective effects of lycopene, with regard to mutagenicity, via two indirect mutagens/carcinogens-2-amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (IQ) and aflatoxin B₁ (AFB₁) and the direct mutagen/carcinogen N-nitroso-N-methylurea (MNU)--using the Ames and micronucleus tests. The significant, dose-dependent, antimutagenic effects of two concentrations of lycopene (30 μg and 300 μg per plate) were demonstrated at various concentrations of both AFB₁ and IQ in two strains of Salmonella typhimurium (TA98 and TA100). The protective effects of lycopene relative to MNU were lower in comparison to its protective effects relative to AFB₁ and IQ. Mice treated for 3 days with different doses of lycopene (either 25 or 50 mg/kg of body weight) prior to administration of individual mutagens resulted in a significant reduction of micronuclei numbers in the micronucleus test. Tomato purée (tested using the Ames test and AFB(1)) revealed a much stronger, dose-dependent, antimutagenic effect compared with corresponding doses of pure lycopene. Results indicate that lycopene has antimutagenic effects, although the effects are lower than that of tomato purée, which contains a complex mixture of bioactive phytochemicals. The antimutagenic effect is connected with the chemoprotective role of lycopene, tomatoes, and tomato products in the prevention of carcinogenesis.

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