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J Lipid Res. 1995 Aug;36(8):1825-38.

Compartmental analysis of the dynamics of beta-carotene metabolism in an adult volunteer.

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Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


Metabolism of a 73 mumol oral dose of beta-carotene-d8 in olive oil was determined from plasma beta-carotene-d8 and retinol-d4 concentration-time curves in an adult male. beta-Carotene-d8 and retinol-d4 concentrations in serial plasma were measured using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), respectively. Plasma beta-carotene-d8 and retinol-d4 concentration-time curves were described by a 5-term and a 3-term polyexponential equation, respectively, using an empirical description of beta-carotene metabolism. A physiologic compartmental model of beta-carotene metabolism was also constructed and tested. This model suggests that 22% of the beta-carotene dose is absorbed: 17.8% as intact beta-carotene and 4.2% as retinoid. Also, it suggests that both liver and enterocyte are important in converting beta-carotene to retinoid; 43% is converted in liver and 57% in enterocyte. Finally, it suggests that the mean residence time for beta-carotene is 51 days and that the 73 mumole dose does not alter the fractional transfer coefficients of the system after absorption takes place. The issue of central versus eccentric cleavage of beta-carotene in humans can be studied with further modeling combined with use of appropriately labeled beta-carotene.

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