In vitro effect of lycopene on cytokine production by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells

Hanna Bessler, Hertzel Salman, Michael Bergman, Yifat Alcalay, Meir Djaldetti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is evidence indicating that regular consumption of tomato products is associated with favorable immunomodulatory effects. In addition, tomato extracts have been shown to possess antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and antithrombotic activity in vitro. Since tomatoes are rich in carotenoids and particularly in lycopene - the pigment responsible for the red color of tomatoes - the present work was designed to examine the in vitro effect of lycopene on cytokine production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 15 healthy subjects. First, 2 × 106 PBMC suspended in 1 ml of conditioned medium were incubated over a period of 24 and 48 hours without or with the following concentrations of lycopene: 0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0 and 4.0 μM. The production of the subsequent cytokines was evaluated: IL-1β, IL-1ra, IL-2, IL-6 and IL-10, as well as TNFα and IFNγ. Lycopene induced a dose-dependent increase in IL1β, and TNFα production and a decrease in IL-2, IL-10 and IFNγ secretion, whereas that of IL-6 and IL-1ra was not affected. It is concluded that understanding the role of lycopene in modulation of the immune system may promote decisions as for dietary supplementation of lycopene for reducing the risk of certain diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalImmunological Investigations
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Human mononuclear cells
  • Interleukins
  • Lycopene
  • Tomatoes


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