Purpose of review
To provide an update on the genetic factors recently associated with the interindividual variability of tomato carotenoid bioavailability.
Several clinical studies have demonstrated that the main carotenoids found in tomatoes (lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene, β-carotene, lutein) all display relatively large interindividual variabilities of their bioavailability, with coefficients of variations more than 70%. The bioavailability of the parent molecules, and the blood/tissue appearance of their metabolites, is modulated by numerous proteins, involved in intestinal absorption and metabolism, blood lipoprotein transport or tissue uptake. Several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been associated with the interindividual variability of lycopene, lutein and β-carotene bioavailability, with six genes consistently shared between the three carotenoids, and in particular one SNP in ELOVL fatty acid elongase 2. The effects of the genetic variants taken separately are relatively low, that is each variant is usually associated with only a few percentage of the variability but multivariate analyses suggest that the additive effect of several genetic variants can explain a significant fraction of tomato carotenoid bioavailability.
Additional studies are needed to improve our knowledge of the genetic determinants of tomato carotenoid bioavailability but progress in this field could one day allow nutritionists to provide more personalized dietary recommendations.