Cutaneous lycopene and beta-carotene levels measured by resonance Raman spectroscopy: high reliability and sensitivity to oral lactolycopene deprivation and supplementation

Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2009 Sep;73(1):187-94. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2009.04.017. Epub 2009 May 13.


Carotenoids, naturally occurring lipophilic micronutrients, possess an antioxidant activity associated with protection from damage induced by free radicals. The present study investigated an innovative non-invasive method to measure cutaneous levels of lycopene and beta-carotene and to monitor the distribution of orally administered lactolycopene in human skin and plasma. A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study was performed in 25 volunteers, who were under a lycopene-deprived diet (4 weeks prior to study until end of the study) and orally received either lactolycopene or placebo for 12 weeks. Skin and plasma levels of lycopene and beta-carotene were monitored monthly using Raman spectroscopy and HPLC, respectively. Cutaneous levels of lycopene and beta-carotene monitored by resonance Raman spectroscopy showed high reliability. Irrespective of the investigated area, cutaneous levels were sensitive to lycopene deprivation and to oral supplementation; the forehead showed the closest correlation to lycopene variation in plasma. Plasma and skin levels of lycopene were both sensitive to oral intake of lactolycopene and, interestingly, also skin levels of beta-carotene. Thus, oral supplementation with lycopene led to an enrichment of beta-carotene in human skin, possibly due to the fact that carotenoids act in the skin as protection chains, with a natural protection against free radicals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage
  • Carotenoids / analysis*
  • Carotenoids / deficiency*
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Skin / chemistry*
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman / methods*
  • Whey Proteins
  • Young Adult
  • beta Carotene / analysis*


  • Milk Proteins
  • Whey Proteins
  • beta Carotene
  • Carotenoids
  • Lycopene