Multifaceted Effects of Lycopene: A Boulevard to the Multitarget-Based Treatment for Cancer

Molecules. 2021 Sep 2;26(17):5333. doi: 10.3390/molecules26175333.


Lycopene is a pigment belonging to the group of carotenoids and it is among the most carefully studied antioxidants found especially in fruit and vegetables. As a carotenoid, lycopene exerts beneficial effects on human health by protecting lipids, proteins, and DNA from damage by oxidation. Lycopene is a powerful oxygen inactivator in the singlet state. This is suggestive of the fact that lycopene harbors comparatively stronger antioxidant properties over other carotenoids normally present in plasma. Lycopene is also reported to hinder cancer cell proliferation. The uncontrolled, rapid division of cells is a characteristic of the metabolism of cancer cells. Evidently, lycopene causes a delay in the progression of the cell cycle, which explains its antitumor activity. Furthermore, lycopene can block cell transformation by reducing the loss of contact inhibition of cancer cells. This paper collects recent studies of scientific evidence that show the multiple beneficial properties of lycopene, which acts with different molecular and cellular mechanisms.

Keywords: antioxidants; antitumor; carotenoids; lycopene.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • DNA Damage
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lycopene / chemistry
  • Lycopene / isolation & purification
  • Lycopene / pharmacology*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Lycopene