Concentrations of selected carotenoids and vitamin A in human liver, kidney and lung tissue

H. H. Schmitz, C. L. Poor, R. B. Wellman, J. W. Erdman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concentrations of preformed vitamin A and five individual carotenoids (α-carotene, β-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein and lycopene) were determined in liver, kidney and lung tissue from 20 autopsies of subjects ranging in age from 4 mo to 86 y. Total carotenoid concentrations in liver tissue were always greater than in kidney or lung tissue within the same patient. Total carotenoid concentration in adult subjects was 2.5-77.1 nmol/g tissue (mean 21.0 nmol/g tissue) in liver tissue (n = 14), 0.2-12.7 nmol/g tissue (mean 3.1 nmol/g tissue) in kidney tissue (n = 13) and 0.1-8.4 nmol/g tissue (mean 1.9 nmol/g tissue) in lung tissue (n = 13). Carotenoid content in tissue samples from two infants was low, ranging from 0 to 1.0 nmol/g tissue. β-Carotene and lycopene were almost always the predominant carotenoids found in liver, kidney and lung tissue. β-Carotene was positively correlated (P < 0.05) with α-carotene, lycopene and total carotenoids in all of the tissues examined. In addition, β-carotene and total carotenoids from liver tissue were positively correlated with the same carotenoids in both kidney and lung tissue within each patient. Total vitamin A (free plus esterified) concentration was 8.7-1102.2 nmol/g tissue in liver (n = 17), 3.5-343.9 nmol/g tissue in kidney (n = 14) and 0.7-404.6 nmol/g tissue in lung (n = 14). Vitamin A concentrations were significantly correlated with both β-carotene and total provitamin A carotenoid concentrations in liver tissue, but not in kidney or lung tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1613-1621
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Carotenoids
  • Humans
  • Vitamin A
  • β-carotene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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