Can carotenoids attenuate vascular aging?

Talya Wolak, Esther Paran

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


One of the main manifestations of vascular aging is the development of atherosclerotic lesions. These lesions become unstable and prone to rupture due to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are produced by the inflammatory milieu in the atherosclerotic plaque. The carotenoids are a group of red, orange, or yellow pigmented polyisoprenoid hydrocarbons synthesized by prokaryotes and higher plants. Lycopene, lutein, and other carotenoids have anti-oxidant activity that attenuates the inflammatory atherosclerotic process and delays vascular aging. This ability improves endothelial function due to the increase in bioavailability of NO. Carotenoid consumption also improves the metabolic profile, decreasing the incidence of diabetes, lowering LDL levels, and improving blood pressure control. The beneficial metabolic effect is translated to improvement in atherosclerosis, which is characterized by a decrease in carotid intima-media thickness. The favorable anti-atherosclerotic effect of carotenoids was also demonstrated in cross-sectional population studies showing a positive correlation between low carotenoid levels and adverse cardiovascular outcome. However, carotenoid utilization failed to decrease major cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events in randomized control double blind trials. The main still unanswered question is: What is the therapeutic role of carotenoids in atherosclerotic disease? Is their anti-atherosclerotic effect restricted to primary prevention or can it alter the prognosis of existing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-66
Number of pages4
JournalVascular Pharmacology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Carotenoids
  • Vascular aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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