British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Nutritional Immunology

Anti-inflammatory effect of lycopene on carrageenan-induced paw oedema and hepatic ischaemia–reperfusion in the rat

Letícia Bignottoa1, João Rochaa2, Bruno Sepodesa2, Maria Eduardo-Figueiraa2, Rui Pintoa2, Marco Chauda3, João de Carvalhoa4, Heitor Moreno Jra1 and Helder Mota-Filipea2 c1

a1 Departamentos de Farmacologia, Faculdade de Ciências Médicas, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

a2 iMED.UL – Inflammation Team, Pharmacological Sciences Group, Unit of Pharmacology and Pharmacotoxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lisbon, Avenida das Forças Armadas, 1649-003 Lisboa, Portugal

a3 Faculdade de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Metodista de Piracicaba, Piracicaba, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

a4 Divisão de Farmacologia, Centro Pluridisciplinar de Pesquisas Químicas, Biológicas e Agrícolas, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Paulínia, São Paulo, SP, Brazil


The regular intake of tomatoes or its products has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases and these effects have been mainly attributed to lycopene. Here, we evaluated the anti-inflammatory properties of lycopene and its protective effects on organ injury in two experimental models of inflammation. In order to study the effects of lycopene in local inflammation, a carrageenan-induced paw oedema model in rats was performed. Lycopene was administered as an acute (1, 10, 25 or 50 mg/kg, intraperitoneally, 15 min before carrageenan injection) and chronic treatment (25 or 50 mg/kg per d, 14 d). Inflammation was assessed by the measurement of paw volume increase after 6 h. Lycopene significantly inhibited paw oedema formation at two doses (25 and 50 mg/kg) in both acute and repeated administration. The effect of lycopene on liver inflammation was evaluated in a liver ischaemia–reperfusion (I/R) model. Rats were subjected to 45 min of ischaemia of three-quarters of the liver followed by 2 h of reperfusion. In this model, lycopene was administered daily at two doses (25 and 50 mg/kg) during the 14 d that preceded the experiments. Repeated administration of lycopene reduced liver injury induced by I/R, as demonstrated by the reduction of the increase in liver injury markers (aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase and γ-glutamyl transferase) and attenuation of liver tissue lipoperoxidation was evidenced by a decrease in malondialdehyde production. The present results show that lycopene exhibited local anti-inflammatory activity and also attenuated liver injury induced by I/R. We speculate that lycopene administration might be useful in the pharmacological modulation of inflammatory events.

(Received December 10 2007)

(Revised October 16 2008)

(Accepted October 18 2008)

(Online publication February 10 2009)


Abbreviations: ALT, alanine aminotransferase; AST, aspartate aminotransferase; γ-GT, γ-glutamyl transferase; i.p., intraperitoneally; I/R, ischaemia–reperfusion; MDA, malondialdehyde; p.o., per os; tempol, 4-hydroxy-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-N-oxyl