Low prostatic lycopene levels are associated with prostate cancer (PCa), according to study findings published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2014;15:1433-1440).

The study, by Simone Mariani, MD, of Sant’Andrea Hospital and Fabia Mater Hospital, both in Rome, and collaborators, included 32 patients with prostatic high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN), a pre-cancerous lesion. The investigators instructed subjects to consume 20-25 mg/day of lycopene through dietary supplementation for six months.

Patients underwent a six-month follow-up prostate biopsy and were classified into three groups based on histopathologic findings: prostatitis (seven patients), HGPIN (16 patients), and PCa (nine patients). The researchers measured PSA and plasma lycopene levels before and after the lycopene supplementation, but measured prostatic lycopene level only after supplementation. Only prostatic lycopene level was significantly different among the three groups, with a level below 1 ng/mg significantly associated only with PCa.

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Of the nine patients with PCa, seven (77.8%) had a prostatic lycopene level below 1 ng/mg compared with only one (6.3%) of 16 patients with HGPIN and none of the seven patients with prostatitis, the researchers reported.

Additionally, the investigators found no overall benefits from lycopene supplementation, as the rate of HGPIN progression to PCa in the study cohort was similar to rates reported in the literature. The study also revealed no significant change in PSA levels from baseline.

The investigators said their findings point to prostatic lycopene level as a promising biomarker of PCa.