Biological activities of natural and synthetic carotenoids: induction of gap junctional communication and singlet oxygen quenching

Carcinogenesis. 1997 Jan;18(1):89-92. doi: 10.1093/carcin/18.1.89.


Induction of gap junctional communication (GJC) and antioxidant activities of carotenoids have been considered as biochemical mechanisms underlying the cancer-preventive properties of these compounds. beta-Carotene and other carotenoids, including those lacking provitamin A activity, proved to be active in both these parameters. The beta-carotene analogs retrodehydro-beta-carotene, echinenone, cryptoxanthin (3-hydroxy-beta-carotene), 4-hydroxy-beta-carotene and canthaxanthin stimulate GJC and efficiently deactivate singlet molecular oxygen. beta-Carotene is less active than its retro-dehydro analog with respect to (1)O2-quenching but GJC is similar. The five-membered ring analog of canthaxanthin, dinor-canthaxanthin, has less effect on GJC as compared with the parent compound but exhibits increased singlet oxygen quenching. Straight-chain polyene dialdehydes are quenchers of singlet oxygen, the efficiency increasing with the number of conjugated double bonds. However, none of these compounds significantly induce GJC. These data indicate that the two properties of carotenoids addressed in this study may operate independent of each other.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Carotenoids / chemistry
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Cell Communication / drug effects*
  • Cell Line / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Gap Junctions / drug effects*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Carotenoids
  • Oxygen