Are the health attributes of lycopene related to its antioxidant function?

John W. Erdman, Nikki A. Ford, Brian L. Lindshield

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


A variety of epidemiological trials have suggested that higher intake of lycopene-containing foods (primarily tomato products) or blood lycopene concentrations are associated with decreased cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer risk. Of the carotenoids tested, lycopene has been demonstrated to be the most potent in vitro antioxidant leading many researchers to conclude that the antioxidant properties of lycopene are responsible for disease prevention. In our review of human and animal trials with lycopene, or lycopene-containing extracts, there is limited support for the in vivo antioxidant function for lycopene. Moreover, tissue levels of lycopene appear to be too low to play a meaningful antioxidant role. We conclude that there is an overall shortage of supportive evidence for the "antioxidant hypothesis" as lycopene's major in vivo mechanism of action. Our laboratory has postulated that metabolic products of lycopene, the lycopenoids, may be responsible for some of lycopene's reported bioactivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2009


  • Antioxidant
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Carotenoids
  • Lycopene
  • Lycopenoids
  • Mechanism
  • Oxidative stress
  • Prostate cancer
  • Tomato
  • Vitamin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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