Modification of lymphocyte DNA damage by carotenoid supplementation in postmenopausal women

Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jan;83(1):163-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/83.1.163.


Background: Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic diseases related to aging such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Carotenoids could be a part of a protective strategy to minimize oxidative damage in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.

Objective: Our aim was to determine the protective effect of carotenoids against DNA damage.

Design: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study was conducted. Thirty-seven healthy, nonsmoking postmenopausal women aged 50-70 y were randomly assigned to 1 of 5 groups and were instructed to consume a daily dose of mixed carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene; 4 mg each), 12 mg of a single carotenoid (beta-carotene, lutein, or lycopene), or placebo for 56 d. Plasma carotenoid concentrations were analyzed by using HPLC, and lymphocyte DNA damage was measured by using a single-cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay.

Results: At day 57, all carotenoid-supplemented groups showed significantly lower endogenous DNA damage than at baseline (P < 0.01), whereas the placebo group did not show any significant change. Significantly less (P < 0.05) endogenous DNA damage was found as early as day 15 in the mixed carotenoid (P < 0.01) and beta-carotene (P < 0.05) groups.

Conclusions: The results indicate that carotenoid supplementation decreases DNA damage and that a combination of carotenoids (4 mg each of lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene), an intake that can be achieved by diet, or a larger dose (12 mg) of individual carotenoids exerts protection against DNA damage.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage*
  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA Damage / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / chemistry*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Postmenopause


  • Antioxidants
  • Carotenoids