Lycopene inhibits lymphocyte proliferation through mechanisms dependent on early cell activation

Lynsey Margaret Mills, Heather M Wilson, Frank Thies* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Epidemiological evidence suggests that lycopene is potentially cardio-protective. Recruitment and activation of T cells in the arterial wall is a critical process during atherogenesis, but the effects of lycopene on T-cell response remain to be elucidated. We aimed to determine whether lycopene could modulate T-cell function and activity.
Methods and results
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 16 healthy adults were cultured in the presence of lycopene-enriched liposomes (0–2.9 µg lycopene/mL) with or without mitogens. Cell cycle as well as the expression of CD69 (marker of early cell activation), CD25 (IL-2 receptor), and CD11a (late activation marker) were measured in T cells, T-helper cells, and T-cytotoxic cells by flow cytometry. IL-2 secretion and cell proliferation were determined by ELISA and [3H]-thymidine incorporation, respectively. Lycopene significantly inhibited lymphocyte proliferation (up to 40%) in activated cells. Lycopene also significantly inhibited CD69 expression (by up to 12%) as well as IL-2 secretion (by up to 29%). However, CD25 and CD11a expression as well as the cell-cycle profile were unaffected by lycopene.
Lycopene influences lymphocyte proliferation through its effects on processes involved in early cellular
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1034-1042
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Nutrition & Food Research
Issue number7
Early online date4 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • immune function
  • lycopene
  • lymphocytes
  • proliferation


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