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J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Feb 15;60(6):1576-85. doi: 10.1021/jf204451n. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Apo-8'-lycopenal induces expression of HO-1 and NQO-1 via the ERK/p38-Nrf2-ARE pathway in human HepG2 cells.

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Department of Food Science and Biotechnology, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan.


Lycopene and its metabolite apo-10'-lycopenoic acid have been shown to induce phase II detoxifying/antioxidant enzymes through activation of the nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2 (Nrf2)-antioxidant response element (ARE) transcription system. However, little is known about whether apo-8'-lyocpenal, one of the main metabolites of lycopene in rat livers, in lycopene-containing food, and in human plasma, has similar effects. This study investigated the effect of apo-8'-lycopenal on Nrf2-ARE system-mediated heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and NAD(P)H:quinine oxidoreductase 1 (NQO-1) expression in human HepG2 cells. It was found that apo-8'-lycopenal (1-10 μM) significantly increased nuclear Nrf2 accumulation, ARE-luciferase activity, Nrf2-ARE binding activity, chymotrypsin-like activity, and downstream HO-1 and NQO-1 expression, but decreased cytosolic Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) expression. Results also revealed that the ERK/p38-Nrf2 pathway is involved in activation of HO-1 and NQO-1 expression by apo-8'-lycopenal using Nrf2 siRNA and ERK/p38 specific inhibitors. In addition, the activation time of lycopene on nuclear Nrf2 accumulation is slower than that of apo-8'-lycopenal, suggesting that the chemopreventive effects of lycopene may be partially attributed to its metabolites.

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