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    Pathways for xanthophyll metabolism have been proposed on the basis of several oxidation products of dietary xanthophylls detected in the tissues of fish, birds, and human subjects. No enzyme reaction had been characterized as responsible for the pathways until a mouse liver homogenate was found to oxidize the 3-hydroxy β-end of xanthophylls to a 3-oxo ε-end in the presence of a cofactor, NAD+. This oxidation consists of dehydrogenation to an unstable intermediate having a 3-oxo β-end group and the subsequent migration of a double bond. β,ε-Caroten-3'-one, a metabolite of β-cryptoxanthin, was found in human plasma, indicating that the same oxidative activity as that found in the mouse liver works in human tissues.The oxidative cleavage of carotenoids is mediated by two dioxygenases: a central cleavage enzyme and an asymmetric cleavage enzyme. In mice, the latter enzyme was suggested to eliminate carotenoids in tissues, while in humans, this enzyme is inactivated, resulting in carotenoid accumulation. In this chapter, carotenoid metabolism in mammals is described in terms of the oxidation of functional groups and cleavage of the carbon skeleton.


    Akihiko Nagao. Metabolism of Carotenoids in Mammals. Advances in experimental medicine and biology. 2021;1261:67-78

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    PMID: 33783731

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