Lycopene beta-cyclase (tlcy-b) tomatoes, obtained by modulating carotenogenesis via genetic engineering, contain a large amount of beta-carotene, as clearly visible by their intense orange colour. In the present study we have subjected tlcy-b tomatoes to an in vitro simulated digestion and analysed the effects of digestate on cell proliferation. To this aim we used HT-29 human colon adenocarcinoma cells, grown in monolayers, as a model. Digested tomatoes were diluted (20 ml, 50 ml and 100 ml/l) in culture medium and added to the cells for different incubation times (24 h, 48 h and 72 h). Inhibition of cell growth by tomato digestate was dose-dependent and resulted from an arrest of cell cycle progression at the G0/G1 and G2/M phase and by apoptosis induction. A down-regulation of cyclin D1, Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl expression was observed. We also found that heat treatment of samples before digestion enhanced beta-carotene release and therefore cell growth inhibition. To induce with purified beta-carotene solubilised in tetrahydrofuran the same cell growth inhibition obtained with the tomato digestate, a higher amount of the carotenoid was necessary, suggesting that beta-carotene micellarised during digestion is utilised more efficiently by the cells, but also that other tomato molecules, reasonably made available during digestion, may be present and cooperate with beta-carotene in promoting cell growth arrest.
- cell growth