Background: Lycopene has previously been shown to have high antioxidative activity. In view of the controversy regarding the beneficial effect of antioxidants on asthma, the acute effects of lycopene (LYC-O-MATOTM) on airway hyperreactivity were assessed in patients with exercise-induced asthma (EIA).
Methods: Twenty patients with EIA participated in our study to verify the antioxidative effects. The test was based on the following sequence: measurement of baseline pulmonary function, 7-min exercise session on a motorized treadmill, 8-min rest and again measurement of pulmonary function, 1-week, oral, randomly administered, double-blind supplementation of placebo or 30 mg/day of lycopene (LYC-O-MATO), measurement of pulmonary function at rest, 7-min exercise session, and 8-min rest and again measurement of pulmonary function. A 4-week washout interval was allowed between each protocol.
Results: All patients given placebo showed significant postexercise reduction of more than 15% in their forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1). After receiving a daily dose of 30 mg of lycopene for 1 week, 11 (55%) patients were significantly protected against EIA. Serum analyses of the patients by high-pressure liquid chromatography detected in the lycopene-supplemented patients an elevated level of lycopene compared to the placebo group, with no change in retinol, tocopherols, or in the other carotenoids.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that a daily dose of lycopene exerts a protective effect against EIA in some patients, most probably through an in vivo antioxidative effect.