Carotenoid deficiency in chronic pancreatitis: the effect of an increase in tomato consumption

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;65(2):262-8. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.232. Epub 2010 Dec 1.


Background/objectives: Carotenoids are potentially malabsorbed in patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP). The aims of this study were: (1) to determine the prevalence of low levels of each of the major carotenoids in subjects with CP; (2) to compare carotenoids in CP subjects with or without vascular disease and (3) to test the effect of an increase in dietary lycopene intake in patients with low plasma lycopene concentration.

Subjects/methods: Simultaneous determination of carotenoids was done in 80 patients with CP and 20 healthy subjects, using high-performance liquid chromatography. Of the CP patients who had low lycopene concentration, 22 (<120 μg/l) had to consume daily 40 g tomato paste (approximately 24 mg lycopene).

Results: Of these patients, 84.7% had at least one carotenoid deficiency and 27.5% had more than four carotenoid deficiencies. Low plasma concentrations in β-carotene and lycopene were correlated, in CP group, with a low body mass index (BMI), a low low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration, alcohol consumption and current smoking status, whereas low plasma concentration in β-cryptoxanthine was correlated with a low BMI, a low LDL cholesterol concentration and alcohol consumption. Lycopene concentration was decreased in patients with vascular disease (171±197 vs 99±72 μg/l; P=0.02). After an intervention period of 8±2 months, lycopene concentration increased from 67.5±30 to 121.8±102 μg/l (P=0.025).

Conclusion: Carotenoid concentrations are dramatically decreased in CP, especially lycopene in CP patients with vascular disease. Despite malabsorption, it is possible to increase lycopene plasma concentration by increasing heated tomato consumption.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants
  • Biological Availability
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • Carotenoids / deficiency*
  • Carotenoids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology
  • Lycopene
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatitis / blood*
  • Pancreatitis / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Carotenoids
  • Lycopene