Are lycopene metabolites metabolically active?
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Lycopene is the most abundant carotenoid found in tomatoes and thus has been touted as the bioactive component for the reduced risk of chronic diseases such as prostate cancer. We and others hypothesize that lycopene metabolites are responsible for positively modulating biomarkers and risk factors for the prevention of chronic diseases. Lycopene metabolites circulate in serum and accumulate in tissues at concentrations equivalent to bioactive retinoids. Recent studies report that lycopene metabolites reduce the proliferation of cancer cells, induce apoptosis, enhance gap junction communication between cells, alter normal cell cycle progression, and modulate androgen signaling pathways. Here we review recent literature and provide new evidence to suggest that lycopene metabolites may be bioactive at physiological concentrations.
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