Author(s): Jomova K, Valko M
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Abstract Carotenoids are natural pigments attracting attention of physicists, chemists and biologists due to their multiple functions in the nature. While carotenoids have unusually high extinction coefficients, they do not exhibit adequate emission. This fact has resulted in detailed studies of photophysical and photochemical properties of carotenoids and their role as light-harvesting pigments in photosynthesis. Carotenoids are abundantly present in fruits and vegetables and are considered as important species with beneficial effect on human health by decreasing the risk of various diseases, particularly decreasing the incidence of cancers and eye disease. More trials are needed to ascertain the role of carotenoids in prevention of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disease. Carotenoids effectively scavenge peroxyl radicals and act predominantly as antioxidants. However, under conditions of increased concentration of oxygen and carotenoid concentration, beta-carotene was found to exhibit prooxidant behaviour. Photophysical properties of carotenoids and conditions affecting a switch between antioxidant and prooxidant behaviour of carotenoids are the main aims of this review. In addition, the localization of carotenoids in biological membranes, their interactions and reactions with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) as well as their redox potentials are discussed in view of their antioxidant properties as beneficial species in preventing various diseases. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Eur J Med Chem
and referenced in Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences