British Journal of Nutrition

Molecular Nutrition

Lycopene inhibits angiogenesis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells and rat aortic rings

Simone Elgassa1, Alan Coopera1 and Mridula Chopraa1 c1

a1 IBBS, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, White Swan Road, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth PO12DT, Hampshire, UK


Angiogenesis is important for tumour vascularisation and growth, and is therefore a promising target for cancer therapy. The present study reports inhibition of in vitro angiogenesis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) as well as in rat aortic rings at physiological concentrations of lycopene, that is, 1–2 μmol/l. At a final concentration of 1·15 μmol/l, a significant reduction (P < 0·05) in network branching, that is, junction numbers, the number of tubules and tubule length, was observed in both HUVEC as well as in the rat aortic rings. The inhibitory effect of lycopene was independent of the presence of the pro-angiogenic agents, vascular endothelial growth factor and TNF-α. The anti-angiogenic effects of lycopene in the present study were shown at a concentration that should be achievable by dietary means. These results extend our knowledge of one of the putative anti-cancer actions of lycopene.

(Received May 31 2011)

(Revised September 26 2011)

(Accepted September 26 2011)

(Online publication December 06 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr M. Chopra, fax +44 2392843565, email


Abbreviations: HUVEC, human umbilical vein endothelial cells; VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor