The health benefits of tomato, a vegetable consumed daily in human diets, have received great attention in the scientific community, and a great deal of experiments have tested their utility against several diseases. Herein, we present a scientometric analysis of recent works aimed to estimate the biological effects of tomato, focusing on bibliographic metadata, type of testers, target systems, and methods of analysis. A remarkably variable array of strategies was reported, including testers obtained by standard and special tomatoes, and the use of in vitro and in vivo targets, both healthy and diseased. In vitro, 21 normal and 36 cancer human cell lines derived from 13 different organs were used. The highest cytotoxic effects were reported on cancer blood cells. In vivo, more experiments were carried out with murine than with human systems, addressing healthy individuals, as well as stressed and diseased patients. Multivariate analysis showed that publications in journals indexed in the agriculture category were associated with the use of fresh tomatoes; conversely, medicine and pharmacology journals were associated with the use of purified and formulate testers. Studies conducted in the United States of America preferentially adopted in vivo systems and formulates, combined with blood and tissue analysis. Researchers in Italy, China, India, and Great Britain mostly carried out in vitro research using fresh tomatoes. Gene expression and proteomic analyses were associated with China and India. The emerging scenario evidences the somewhat dichotomic approaches of plant geneticists and agronomists and that of cell biologists and medicine researchers. A higher integration between these two scientific communities would be desirable to foster the assessment of the benefits of tomatoes to human health.
Keywords: Solanum lycopersicum L.; anthocyanins; anticancer properties; antioxidant; carotenoids; food nutrition; phytochemicals; systematic review; tomato germplasm.