[14C]-Lycopene and [14C]-Labeled Polar Products Are Differentially Distributed in Tissues of F344 Rats Prefed Lycopene

Susan Zaripheh, Thomas W.M. Boileau, Mary Ann Lila, John W. Erdman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epidemiologic evidence suggests a possible role for lycopene-rich foods in the prevention of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. Despite active research in disease reduction, there is a paucity of information on the absorption, biodistribution and metabolism of lycopene. The aim of this study was to evaluate the biodistribution of 14C-lycopene (specific activity, 1.83 μCi/mg) and 14C-labeled products after an oral dose of 22 μCi of 14C-lycopene in male rats that had been prefed a lycopene-containing diet (0.25 g lycopene/kg diet) for 30 d. The percentage of 14C excreted in feces and urine over the 168 h was 68%. Quantitatively, serum 14C levels were maintained between 3 and 24 h then decreased at 72 h (P < 0.05). At all time points the majority of tissue 14C was in the liver (∼72%), although total hepatic 14C decreased after 24 h. In a comparison of the extrahepatic tissue at 168 h, the 14C was greatest in adipose tissue followed by spleen and then adrenal; ∼80% of the 14C in the liver was in the cis and all-trans configuration at all time points. At 3 h, the 14C in seminal vesicles was primarily in the all-trans plus 5-cis forms (70%), but by 168 h, 55% of 14C was present as 14C-polar products. Despite the presence of unlabeled lycopene in the prostate, the primary 14C form was in 14C-polar products (67-92%), even at 3 h. The percentage and amount of 14C-polar products in the dorsolateral prostate lobe increased from 3 to 24 h and then reached a plateau. The data suggest that lycopene may be metabolized differently among tissues in rats prefed lycopene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4189-4195
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Biodistribution
  • Lycopene
  • Lycopene metabolites
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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