Identification, quantification, and relative concentrations of carotenoids and their metabolites in human milk and serum

Anal Chem. 1997 May 15;69(10):1873-81. doi: 10.1021/ac961085i.


Thirty-four carotenoids, including 13 geometrical isomers and eight metabolites, in breast milk and serum of three lactating mothers have been separated, identified, quantified, and compared by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-photodiode array (PDA) detection-mass spectrometry (MS). Among the metabolites were two oxidation products of lycopene and four of lutein/ zeaxanthin. In addition, two metabolites of lutein, formed as a result of dehydration of this dihydroxycarotenoid under acidic conditions similar to those of the stomach, have also been identified in plasma and breast milk. The oxidative metabolites of lycopene with a novel five-membered-ring end group have been identified as epimeric 2,6-cyclolycopene-1,5-diols by comparison of their HPLC-UV/visible-MS profiles with those of fully characterized (1H- and 13C-NMR spectroscopy) synthetic compounds. The HPLC procedures employed also detected vitamin A, two forms of vitamin E (gamma- and alpha-tocopherol), and two non-carotenoid food components, i.e., piperine and caffeine, in serum and breast milk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carotenoids / analysis*
  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*


  • Carotenoids