A study published online September 23, 2016, in the British Journal of Dermatology suggests that oral supplementation with lutein and lycopene offers protection from UV radiation at the molecular level.
The placebo-controlled, double-blinded, randomized crossover study assessed whether two actives containing either lycopene-rich tomato nutrient complex (TNC) or lutein were able to decrease the expression of UVA1 radiation-inducible genes including heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1). A total of 65 healthy volunteers were allocated to four treatment groups. They underwent a two-week washout phase, followed by two 12-week treatment phases, separated by another two-week washout phase. Subjects either started with active and switched to placebo, or vice versa. Their skin was irradiated at the beginning and end of each treatment phase, and 24 hours later biopsies were taken for RT-PCR analysis of gene expression. The researchers also took blood samples after the washout and treatment phases to assess carotenoids.
They found that TNC completely inhibited UVA1- and UVA/B-induced upregulation of HO-1, ICAM-1 and MMP1 mRNA regardless of sequence. In contrast, lutein provided complete protection if it was taken in the first period, but showed significantly smaller effects in the second sequence compared to TNC.
The researchers concluded that, “Assuming the role of these genes as indicators of oxidative stress, photo-dermatoses and photoaging, these results might indicate that TNC and lutein could protect against solar radiation-induced health damage.”
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