Significant correlations of dermal total carotenoids and dermal lycopene with their respective plasma levels in healthy adults

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2010 Dec 1;504(1):34-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Jul 14.


Carotenoids in skin have been known to play a role in photoprotection against UV radiation. We performed dermal biopsies of healthy humans (N=27) and collected blood samples for pair-wise correlation analyses of total and individual carotenoid content by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The hydrocarbon carotenoids (lycopene and beta-carotene) made up the majority of carotenoids in both skin and plasma, and skin was somewhat enriched in these carotenoids relative to plasma. Beta-cryptoxanthin, a monohydroxycarotenoid, was found in similar proportions in skin as in plasma. In contrast, the dihydroxycarotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, were relatively lacking in human skin in absolute and relative levels as compared to plasma. Total carotenoids were significantly correlated in skin and plasma (r=0.53, p<0.01). Our findings suggest that human skin is relatively enriched in lycopene and beta-carotene, compared to lutein and zeaxanthin, possibly reflecting a specific function of hydrocarbon carotenoids in human skin photoprotection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Carotenoids / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Female
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman
  • Young Adult


  • Carotenoids
  • Lycopene