Background: It has been suggested that exercise-induced bronchoconstriction may involve oxidative stress. Strenuous exercise promotes free radical production, which can lead to many of the pathophysiologic changes associated with asthma, including bronchoconstriction, mucus secretion, and microvascular leakage. Lycopene has been shown to have high antioxidative activity.
Objective: To evaluate the effect of lycopene supplementation on airway hyperreactivity and inflammation in young athletes who complain of difficulty in breathing related to physical exertion.
Methods: Nineteen young athletes with exercise-related difficulty in breathing visited the exercise laboratory 3 times. During the first visit, participants underwent a baseline evaluation of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Daily for 1 week before each of the 2 subsequent visits, participants ingested 30 mg of lycopene (a natural antioxidant) or placebo (in randomized order, double-blind). A 2-week washout period was given between each visit. During each visit, lung functions were evaluated before and after an 8-minute run on the treadmill (85% of the predicted maximal heart rate).
Results: There was no difference in the mean+/-SD decrease in forced expiratory volume in 1 second after exercise during lycopene treatment compared with placebo treatment (11.8%+/-12.5% and 11.0%+/-11.6%). In addition, there was no apparent division into responders and nonresponders.
Conclusion: A daily dose of lycopene for 1 week does not affect lung function after exercise and may not provide any protective effect against clinical difficulty in breathing in young athletes.