Lycopene, photoprotection and skin care: The benefits of organic quality

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Excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light causes a photo-oxidative damage (photo-aging) that negatively affects human health and skin appearance. The endogenous supply with antioxidants and micronutrients may help preventing photo-oxidative damage of the skin. Carotenoids are important plant pigments involved in photosynthesis and photoprotection from excessive light. They are components of many foods and dietary supplements believed effective against skin photo-oxidation. The protective properties attributed to these compounds are mainly due to their powerful antioxidant activities and to other molecular mechanisms not yet fully elucidated. This is confirmed by several epidemiological studies showing that an adequate daily intake of lycopene and β-caro-tene containing foods or supplements efficiently protect the skin from photo-oxidative damages. Lycopene is, in fact, the more abundant carotenoid in plasma and tissues of the human body, including skin, where it exerts an effective action in detoxifying free radicals. In addition, supplements containing lycopene, along with other natural antioxidants, significantly improve skin texture. After 12 weeks of treatment, skin density and thickness increased of 7% and 15%, respectively. Positive effects were also demonstrated in wrinkles reduction. Lycopene currently available on the international markets is produced by chemical synthesis or extracted from vegetable sources (mainly tomatoes) using chemical solvents (natural lycopene). Clinical studies showed that dietary supplements made with natural lycopene are more effective than those containing synthetic lycopene probably for the presence of other bio-active molecules co-extracted from tomatoes, synergizing with lycopene in promoting the positive effects on human health. However, despite its name, natural lycopene is extracted from tomatoes using toxic organic solvents which may contaminate the end-product. Moreover, tomato berries and tomato by-products used for natural lycopene extraction are not subject to legislative restrictions and/or constrains. Thus, genetically modified tomato varieties (OGM) and berries containing residues of pesticides and heavy metals beyond the limits permitted for human consumption can, therefore, be used. The so-called organic lycopene, has recently been introduced on the international market. It is an innovative product extracted from tomatoes grown under organic regime, excluding the use of OGM and synthetic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, ecc.), by a technique that use supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) as the only extractive solvent, avoiding, therefore, the toxicological, health and ecological risks related to the use, removal and disposal of conventional chemical solvents. Organic lycopene is, therefore, 100% natural, solvent-free and non-toxic. Since it is in the form of an over-saturated solution in a vegetable oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids, organic lycopene has excellent characteristics in terms of bioavailability. These characteristics make organic lycopene an excellent candidate to replace synthetic and natural lycopene as main ingredient in the formulation of a wide range of high-quality risk-less products, including specific dietary supplements for skin care and wellness.

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... Clinical studies showed that dietary supplements made with natural lycopene are more effective than those containing its synthetic form, probably for the presence of other bio-active molecules co-extracted from tomatoes, as which synergize with lycopene in promoting the positive effects on human health (Cazzola, 2012). However, the use of organic solvents for the extraction of natural lycopene may contaminate the end-product and facilitate the co-extraction of toxic chemicals including fertilizers, pesticides and heavy metals (Rescio et al., 2010). Several studies demonstrated the advantages of the lycopene added in a lipid matrix. ...
The aim of this investigation was to produce an olive oil (OO) naturally enriched with antioxidants, recovering carotenoids, in particular lycopene, using an industrial by-product of tomato seeds and skin. For this purpose, a technological process in a low-scale industrial plant to co-mill olives and tomato by-product in de-frosted or freeze-dried forms was applied and studied with respect to control samples. Preliminary results obtained from two different experiments were carried out by 40 kg of cultivar Correggiolo olives and 60 kg of olive blends from different cultivars. In both the experiments, the co-milling showed significant enrichment in carotenoids, especially in lycopene (mean values of 5.4 and 7.2 mg/kg oil from defrosted and freeze-dried by-products, respectively). The experimental results demonstrated the possibility to obtain a new functional food naturally enriched in antioxidant compounds, which might be marketed as “OO dressing enriched in lycopene” or “condiment produced using olives and tomato by-product”.
Lycopene is a carotenoid that determines the red color of tomatoes. New researches showed that lycopene has numerous biological properties useful for human health. The most important thing is its antioxidant activity. Several epidemiological studies have suggested that adequate intake of lycopene may reduce the risk of cancer and chronic diseases. At skin level lycopene seems to protect from damage caused by UV and photoaging. Among the various types of lycopene obtainable industrially, the bio seems to possess the best quality.
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A double-blind study was conducted in 10 healthy men to investigate serum beta-carotene and lycopene responses after ingestion of individual and combined doses of beta-carotene (BC) and lycopene. On each dosing day, a baseline blood sample was drawn, followed by an oral dose of 0.11 mmol (60 mg) of either all-trans BC or all-trans lycopene or by a combined oral dose of 0.11 mmol each. Subjects were tested with each of the three doses. The dose type was randomized. Blood (10 mL) was drawn at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12 and 24 h after dosing. At 2 and 4 wk after the first dose, the protocol was repeated with the other doses. After ingestion of the BC dose, serum BC concentrations significantly decreased from baseline at 1 and 3 h followed by a continuous increase from baseline that was significant at 12 and 24 h (P < 0.01). Serum lycopene concentrations significantly increased from baseline at 5 h after the lycopene dose (P < 0.008) and returned to baseline thereafter. Ingestion of a combined dose of BC and lycopene resulted in a significant increase in serum concentrations of both BC and lycopene at 24 h (P < 0.05). The 24-h area under the curve (AUC) for BC was not different when BC was ingested alone or with lycopene, whereas the 24-h AUC for lycopene was significantly greater when lycopene was ingested with BC than when ingested alone (P < 0.05). Our data suggest that ingestion of a combined dose of BC and lycopene has little effect on the absorption of BC but improves that of lycopene in men.
Directly and indirectly, the sun provides the energy supporting life on earth. All foods and fuels are ultimately derived from plants using solar energy in the process of photosynthesis. The sun releases the majority of its energy as visible light, but infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) rays are also significant parts of the solar spectrum (1). According to the range of wavelengths, UV light is divided into UVA (320-400 nm), UVB (280-320 nm), and UVC (100-280 nm). The spectrum of visible light ranges from 400 to 700 nm. While UVC light is mainly absorbed by the ozone layer, UVB and UVA rays reach the terrestrial surface. Exposure to visible and UV light may interfere with essential bio- chemical functions in living organisms and damage biologically important structures like DNA, lipids, and proteins (2-4). In DNA, UV radiation leads to the formation of thymidine dimers, photo-oxidation products, and single-strand breaks. Animals and plants have developed various strategies of defense against light-induced damage (5). Photosynthetic organisms make use of carotenoids for photoprotection of reaction centers and pigment-protein antennae via energy dissipation (6). Absorption and reflection of light provide other mechanisms of defense (7). An adaptive response of human skin toward irradiation with sunlight is pigmentation and thickening of the stratum corneum. The epidermal pigment melanin provides protection, lowering the radiant energy by the absorption of UV light.
Beta-carotene, a quencher of excited species such as singlet oxygen and free radicals, has been reported to protect against cutaneous photodamage, including sunburn acutely and photocarcinogenesis chronically. The present double blind placebo-controlled study examines the effect of beta-carotene supplementation on the human sunburn response and specifically on the induction of sunburn cells at the time of peak reaction intensity (24 h) after a single solar simulated light exposure 3 times the individually determined minimal erythema dose (MED). Administered orally either as a single 120 mg dose to dietarily restricted subjects or for 23 d as a daily 90 mg supplement to subjects on standard diets, beta-carotene increased plasma and skin levels of beta-carotene compared to both pretreatment levels and placebo-treated controls, but provided no clinically or histologically detectable protection against a 3 MED sunburn reaction. Thus, these data suggest that oral beta-carotene supplementation is unlikely to modify the severity of cutaneous photodamage in normal individuals to a clinically meaningful degree.
The penetration of different wavelengths of UV radiation through human skin is of major importance, especially for the determination of photoprotective properties of sunscreens and UV-protective clothes. In this study we present a new method for the measurement of UV transmission through small skin specimens. The transmission measurements were performed by using a UV spectrophotometer with an integrating sphere operating in the wavelength range of 280-390 nm. For the skin samples, special quartz glass cuvettes were developed which allowed measurements for very thin and small skin specimens. Furthermore, the cuvettes prevented dehydration of the specimens and guaranteed, by using an additional diaphragm, that the transmission data were derived solely from the small skin specimen examined. Specimens measuring 8 x 3 mm(2) with a thickness of 0.3 mm (histometric and sonographic control) were taken from the thighs of 10 subjects via shave biopsy. In the UVA range (315-390 nm) we obtained a mean transmission of 4.6% and for the UVB range (280-315 nm) of 0.9%. No significant (p >0.14) difference of UV transmission was found between the individual skin specimens. This new method seems to be well suitable for UV transmission measurements of small skin specimens. As UVA radiation has a much deeper penetration depth and in in vivo situations dermal hemoglobin could have an effect on UV penetration, the present method is better suitable for the investigation of UVB-induced biological adaptation mechanisms and the impact of topical agents on UVB transmission of the epidermis.
Cutaneous photodamage is partly mediated via oxidative pathways and there is evidence to suggest that antioxidants within the skin may have a photoprotective effect. Antioxidant activity is provided by a number of naturally occurring substances including alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) and beta-carotene, whose effects are mediated by their capacity to quench singlet oxygen, scavenge free radicals and prevent the formation of free radicals. Beta-carotene has been used as treatment for various photosensitivity disorders for more than 30 years. The main indication for its use is in the treatment of the photosensitivity associated with erythropoietic protoporphyria. A role for beta-carotene in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer has yet to be demonstrated despite clinical research activity in this area. The role for alpha-tocopherol as a photoprotective agent is less clear-cut and it has yet to be established as treatment either for conditions characterized by photosensitivity or as an agent for preventing chronic photodamage or cutaneous malignancy.
The Journal of Investigative Dermatology publishes basic and clinical research in cutaneous biology and skin disease.
Anticancer activity of carotenoids: From human studies to cellular processes and gene regulation
  • Sharoni Y.
  • Danilenko M.
  • Levy J.
  • Stahl W.