Can Lycopene Impact the Androgen Axis in Prostate Cancer?: A Systematic Review of Cell Culture and Animal Studies

Nutrients. 2019 Mar 15;11(3):633. doi: 10.3390/nu11030633.


First-line therapy for advanced or metastatic prostate cancer (PCa) involves the removal of tumor-promoting androgens by androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), resulting in transient tumor regression. Recurrent disease is attributed to tumor adaptation to survive, despite lower circulating androgen concentrations, making the blockage of downstream androgen signaling a chemotherapeutic goal for PCa. Dietary intake of tomato and its predominant carotenoid, lycopene, reduce the risk for PCa, and preclinical studies have shown promising results that tomato and lycopene can inhibit androgen signaling in normal prostate tissue. The goal of this systematic review was to evaluate whether mechanistic evidence exists to support the hypothesis that tomato or lycopene interact with the androgen axis in PCa. Eighteen studies (n = 5 in vivo; n = 13 in vitro) were included in the final review. A formal meta-analysis was not feasible due to variability of the data; however, the overall estimated directions of effect for the compared studies were visually represented by albatross plots. All studies demonstrated either null or, more commonly, inhibitory effects of tomato or lycopene treatment on androgen-related outcomes. Strong mechanistic evidence was unable to be ascertained, but tomato and lycopene treatment appears to down-regulate androgen metabolism and signaling in PCa.

Keywords: androgen; animal; cell culture; lycopene; prostate cancer; tomato.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Lycopene* / pharmacology
  • Lycopene* / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Androgens
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Lycopene