Wellness Database: Lycopene
Lycopene is a nutrient found in tomatoes that is known to reduce oxidative stress and improve endothelial functioning, possibly reducing the risk of heart disease.
Lycopene Supplementation Improves Male Fertility
Summary: In a study involving 13 normospermic male partners from infertile relationships and 15 fertile volunteers, lycopene supplementation was found to be associated with improvements in fertility. Subjects received 20 mg of lycopene or a placebo for a period of 12-weeks, followed by crossover and treatment for another 12 weeks. sRAGE levels in seminal plasma in fertile volunteers (controls) as well as in male partners in the infertile relationships group decreased. No significant effect of lycopene on sRAGE in blood plasma was found in either group, but seminal plasma sRAGE was significantly suppressed. Lycopene decreased sRAGE in seminal, but not in blood plasma. Researchers suggest decreased sRAGE may be caused by lycopene suppression of oxidative stressors and explain in part the putative improvement in fertility reported after lycopene treatment.
Low Levels of Serum Lycopene Found in Diabetics
In a study involving 71 patients with type 2 diabetes and 23 non-diabetic healthy controls, serum lycopene concentrations were found to be significantly lower among diabetics, as compared to controls. Furthermore, diabetics with proliferative diabetic retinopathy were found to have significantly lower lycopene levels than diabetics without retinopathy or without proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Hemoglobin A1c levels were found to be negatively associated with lycopene, after multivariate adjustment. The authors conclude, "Our findings show that measuring serum lycopene is a novel convenient method for evaluating oxidative damage. Diabetic patients, especially those with advanced diabetic retinopathy, had significantly lower serum lycopene levels; this suggests that lycopene may be helpful for the diagnosis, severity, and therapeutic evaluation of diabetic retinopathy." The effects of supplementation with lycopene by diabetics requires further investigation.
"Serum lycopene levels in patients with diabetic retinopathy," Li ZZ, Lu XZ, et al, Eur J Ophthalmol, 2010 Jan 21.
Lycopene Reduces Oxidative Stress and Improves Endothelial Function
Summary: In a randomized, placebo-controlled study involving 126 healthy men, results indicate that supplementation with lycopene may reduce oxidative stress and improve endothelial function. The subjects were randomized to placebo or lycopene supplementation (15 mg/day) for a period of 8 weeks. At intervention end, subjects in the lycopene group showed greater increase in plasma SOD activity, reduction in lymphocyte DNA comet tail length, significant decreases in hs-CRP, systolic blood pressure, sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1, and significant increases in beta-carotene and LDL-particle size, compared with subjects in the placebo group. Additionally, a significant improvement in endothelial function was observed in the lycopene group (assessed by reactive hyperemia peripheral arterial tonometry (RH-PAT)), particularly in subjects with relatively impaired endothelial cell function at baseline. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, "An increase in serum lycopene after supplementation can reduce oxidative stress which may play a role in endothelial function."
Reference: "Effects of lycopene supplementation on oxidative stress and markers of endothelial function in healthy men," Kim JY, Lee JH, et al, Atherosclerosis, 2010, Dec 9; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Yonsei University Research Institute of Science for Aging, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea).
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