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Lycopene from heat-induced cis-isomer-rich tomato sauce is more bioavailable than from all-trans-rich tomato sauce in human subjects

  • Nuray Z. Unlu (a1), Torsten Bohn (a1), David M. Francis (a2), Haikady N. Nagaraja (a3), Steven K. Clinton (a4) and Steven J. Schwartz (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2007

Lycopene is present mainly as cis-isomers in human serum and tissues whereas all-trans-lycopene predominates in tomato products, suggesting that all-trans-lycopene is isomerised in the body or is less bioavailable. The objectives of the present study were to develop processing conditions for tomatoes to obtain products with different cis-trans-lycopene isomer distribution and to assess their bioavailability. Healthy adult subjects (n 12) were recruited for this randomised cross-over trial. Each intervention was preceded by a 2-week washout period. Two tomato sauces, one rich in all-trans-lycopene (32·5 mg total lycopene/100 g sauce; 5 % cis-isomers), the other high in cis-lycopene (26·4 mg total lycopene/100 g sauce; 45 % cis-isomers), were produced by different heat-processing techniques. Each sauce (150 g) was served in a standardised meal at 08.00 hours after overnight fasting. Plasma TAG-rich lipoprotein fractions over 9.5 h following test-meal consumption as a measure of lycopene absorption were obtained and expressed as baseline-corrected area under the concentration v. time curves (AUC), using HPLC-electrochemical detection. AUC values adjusted for the amount lycopene consumed showed that total, total cis-, and all-trans-lycopene responses were significantly higher from the cis-isomer-rich sauce, compared with the all-trans-rich sauce, being 7·30 (sem 1·45) v. 4·74 (sem 1·08) nmol × h/l (P = 0·002), 3·80 (sem 0·76) v. 1·98 (sem 0·37) nmol × h/l (P = 0·0005) and 3·50 (sem 0·76) v. 2·76 (sem 0·76) nmol × h/l (P = 0·01), respectively. The present study demonstrates significant lycopene bioavailability from cis-lycopene-rich tomato sauce and highlights the importance of considering isomer-distribution for lycopene bioavailability. Furthermore, processing parameters can be controlled to alter isomer patterns of tomato products and influence lycopene bioavailability.

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*Corresponding author: Dr Steven J. Schwartz, fax +1 614 292 4233, email
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NZ Unlu , T Bohn , DM Francis , SK Clinton & SJ Schwartz (2007) Carotenoid absorption in humans consuming tomato pasta sauces obtained from tangerine or high-β-carotene varieties of tomatoes. J Agric Food Chem. Published online. doi: 10.1021/jf062337b.

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British Journal of Nutrition
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