Lycopene protects bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells against ischemia-induced apoptosis in vitro

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2014 Jun;18(11):1625-31.


Objective: Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been identified to have the potential to differentiate into multiple types of cells. And the therapy based on transplantation of MSCs in some solid organs has been suggested in recent years. However, the rejection reaction often occurs in the transplantation of MSCs and could induce cell death. Ischemia has been reported to one of the main causes of MSCs death during transplantation. The primary objective of this study was to verify whether a natural antioxidant, lycopene, could protect MSCs from ischemia-induced apoptosis in vitro.

Materials and methods: MSCs were isolated from bone marrow in mice femoral bone marrow. The effect of lycopene on MSCs during oxygen-glucose-serum deprivation was investigated.

Results: We found that lycopene protected MSCs from serum deprivation- and hypoxia-induced apoptosis. The reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and inducible nitric oxide synthetase expression were also inhibited dose-dependently by lycopene. Further investigation revealed that lycopene could activate phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt. Pretreatment with PI3K/Akt inhibitors prevented the protective effect of lycopene on MSCs.

Conclusions: Lycopene could protect MSCs from ischemia-induced apoptosis through reducing ROS generation; therefore, lycopene could be useful in MSC transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Cell Hypoxia / drug effects
  • Cell Hypoxia / physiology
  • Ischemia / drug therapy
  • Ischemia / metabolism
  • Ischemia / pathology*
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Carotenoids
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Lycopene