Damage to the cytoplasmic membrane and cell death caused by lycopene in Candida albicans

J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007 Nov;17(11):1797-804.


Lycopene, an acyclic carotenoid found in tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) and a number of fruits, has shown various biological properties, but its antifungal effects remain poorly understood. The current study investigated the antifungal activity of lycopene and its mode of action. Lycopene showed potent antifungal effects toward pathogenic fungi, tested in an energy-independent manner, with low hemolytic effects against human erythrocytes. To confirm the antifungal effects of lycopene, its effects on the dimorphism of Candida albicans induced by fetal bovine serum (FBS), which plays a key role in the pathogenesis of a host invasion, were investigated. The results showed that lycopene exerted potent antifungal activity on the serum-induced mycelia of C. albicans. To understand the antifungal mode of action of lycopene, the action of lycopene against fungal cell membranes was examined by FACScan analysis and glucose and trehalose-release test. The results indicated that lycopene caused significant membrane damage and inhibited the normal budding process, resulting from the destruction of membrane integrity. The present study indicates that lycopene has considerable antifungal activity, deserving further investigation for clinical applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Candida albicans / drug effects*
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Lycopene
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Sodium Azide / pharmacology
  • Trehalose / metabolism


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Carotenoids
  • Sodium Azide
  • Trehalose
  • Glucose
  • Lycopene