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J Nutr. 1995 Oct;125(10):2610-7.

Distributions of carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol among lipoproteins do not change when human plasma is incubated in vitro.

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Department of Biochemistry, Medical College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19129, USA.


Carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol are dietary, lipophilic antioxidants which may protect plasma lipoproteins from oxidation, a process believed to contribute to atherogenesis. In this study, the quantities and distributions of carotenoids, alpha-tocopherol and major lipids in the plasma and lipoproteins of seven normolipidemic humans were determined. Experiments were also conducted to determine if these antioxidants redistribute among lipoproteins when plasma is incubated in vitro. Virtually all of the total carotenoid in plasma associated with lipoproteins, primarily LDL [73 +/- 10% (mean +/- SD)], as did the more non-polar individual carotenoids, beta-cryptoxanthin (68 +/- 9%); lycopene (79 +/- 9%), and beta-carotene (72 +/- 12%), in patterns which closely resembled the distribution of total cholesterol. Xanthophyll, the most polar carotenoid examined, distributed equally between LDL (44 +/- 11%) and HDL (38 +/- 14%), whereas alpha-tocopherol associated with LDL (43 +/- 12%), HDL (26 +/- 10%), and VLDL (27 +/- 13%). These patterns closely resembled that of phospholipid. Approximately four carotenoid molecules associated with each VLDL and one with each LDL particle, whereas only 25 of every 1000 HDL particles contained carotenoid. Approximately 145 molecules of alpha-tocopherol associated with VLDL, 12 with LDL, and one with each HDL particle. Unlike triglyceride and cholesteryl ester, known to transfer among lipoproteins through the action of cholesteryl ester transfer protein, net transfer of carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol among lipoproteins did not occur.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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