All-trans β-carotene is absorbed preferentially to 9-cis β-carotene, but the latter accumulates in the tissues of domestic ferrets (mustela putorius puro)

John W. Erdman, Angela J. Thatcher, Nicolle E. Hofmann, Janine D. Lederman, Stephanie S. Block, Christine M. Lee, Shoshana Mokady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The algae Dunaliella bardawil and Dunaliella salina naturally contain large concentrations of all-trans and 9-cis β-carotene (βC). The purpose of this study was to compare the relative serum and tissue accumulation of all- trans and 9-cis βC in ferrets fed different ratios of all-trans/9-cis βC derived from two commercial sources, D. bardawil or D. salina (Betatene). Male ferrets (7 wk old) were fed carotene-free, pelleted diets for 27 d. Beginning on d 18, groups of ferrets (n = 6 or 7) received daily, one of six oral supplements varying in ratios of 9-cis and all-trans βC mixed with ~1.0mL of Ensure. Four supplements containing 5.2-8.3 μmol total βC were prepared from a 20% Betatene preparation, D. bardawil, a high-cis Betatene preparation, and Betatene further enriched in 9-cis βC with all-trans βC/9- cis βC ratios of 2.2, 1.5, 0.6 and 0.4, respectively. Two control supplements, high and low βC, were prepared from commercial βC beadlets. The high control supplement had an all-trans/9-cis ratio of 19.0, whereas 9- cis βC was not detected in the low supplement. On d 27, serum and tissues were obtained for HPLC analysis of βC and its isomers. Analysis of livers showed that all-trans βC was the primary isomer present, but 9-cis and other isomers were also detected in all groups. The hepatic all-trans/9-cis ratios were 5.9, 4.9, 2.5, 1.4, 52.2 and 47.5, respectively, for the groups listed above. Lower amounts of all-trans and 9-cis βC were found in kidneys compared with the liver, but ratios of all-trans/9-cis were not different among groups. Only trace amounts of 9-cis βC were found in serum. These results demonstrate that the algae D. bardawil and D. salina provide a bioavailable source of βC isomers, but, as in humans, absorption of 9-cis βC is poor and any 9-cis βC absorbed is apparently cleared by the liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2009-2013
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • 9-cis β-carotene
  • All-trans β-carotene
  • Carotenoids
  • Domestic ferrets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'All-trans β-carotene is absorbed preferentially to 9-cis β-carotene, but the latter accumulates in the tissues of domestic ferrets (mustela putorius puro)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this