Variation of serum lycopene in response to 100% watermelon juice: An exploratory analysis of genetic variants in a randomized controlled crossover study

Academic Article


  • Background: Watermelon, a rich source of lycopene, has garnered attention for cardioprotective effects including cholesterol reduction and promotion of redox balance. It is unknown whether 100% watermelon juice may represent a food-first approach to confer cardioprotective benefits of lycopene. Objectives: This study examined influences of 100% watermelon juice on serum lycopene, lipids, and antioxidant capacity. Secondly, the study explored genetic influences on lycopene metabolism and bioavailability. Methods: A placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind, crossover trial with postmenopausal women (n = 16, mean ± SD age: 60 ± 4.1 y) assessed effects of 100% watermelon juice on mechanistic and clinical outcomes influencing vascular function. Participants maintained low-lycopene diets for a 1-wk run-in period and throughout the study. Morning and evening consumption of 100% watermelon juice provided a daily dose of 14.4 ± 0.34 mg lycopene. Study arms of 4 wk were separated by a 2-wk washout period. Saliva was collected for genetic analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms, and fasting blood samples were taken pre. and arms. Statistical analyses included mixed models, linear regression, and nonparametric tests. Results: Serum lycopene exhibited a significant treatment effect (P = 0.002) along with notable interindividual responses; however, significant improvements in serum lipids or antioxidant capacity were not observed. Genetic variant rs6564851 in the β-carotene 15,15 f-oxygenase-1 (BCO1) gene was associated with changes in lycopene such that TT homozygotes exhibited a significantly greater increase (β ± SE: 13.4 ± 1.6, P = 1.4 × 10-06). Conclusions: Watermelon juice supplementation did not result in improvements in serum lipids or antioxidant capacity; however, results support findings in which watermelon juice significantly, yet differentially, increased circulating lycopene. Genetics appears to explain some of the variability. Given that dose has been shown to overcome individual responsiveness to lycopene interventions, future investigations with varying doses of lycopene-rich foods would be strengthened by genotyping so as to establish personalized nutrition recommendations.
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    Author List

  • Crowe-White KM; Voruganti VS; Talevi V; Dudenbostel T; Nagabooshanam VA; Locher JL; Ellis AC
  • Volume

  • 4
  • Issue

  • 7