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Dear ICS members:

I am writing to you in reference to the upcoming ICS elections. The Society needs to elect five new Councilors and one President-elect to serve on the ICS council. Please e-mail me your nominations for Councilors and President-elect by December 31st so that we can begin the voting process at the beginning of New Year. Each candidate must be nominated by at least two members. The names of the nominees and their statements will be posted on the ICS website and will also be sent to you by e-mail. You will be able to vote electronically on the ICS website ( shortly after nominees are identified in the first week of January and you will have until March 31st to cast your votes. To ensure the integrity of this process, I will appoint three Councilors to serve as judges who will be able to regularly monitor the vote counts. The results of the election will be posted on the ICS website in the first week of April and the members will also be notified by e-mail.

According to the by-laws of the Society any member of the Society is eligible for election as an Officer or Councilor. A Councilor is eligible for subsequent election as an Officer but, upon such election, shall cease to be a Councilor. The term of Officer consist of three-year periods running from July 1 to June 30.

The President shall serve for a term of three years beginning July 1 after service as President-Elect for three years. The President shall then remain as a member of the Council for three years as Immediate Past President. A Councilor shall be eligible to stand for re-election for one further six-year term. A Councilor is eligible for election as an Officer, but upon such election, shall cease to be a Councilor. Candidates may be nominated by Council or by members. At least one member of the Council must be affiliated with academia, and at least one member must be affiliated with the corporate sector.

Candidates' statements: The nominated candidates for Councilors and President-elect should e-mail me their statements (200 words or less) by March 31st. The candidates should briefly describe their experience and their scientific contributions in the carotenoid field and explain how the Society can benefit from their vision, creative ideas, leadership, and experience.
Prof. Dr. Hideki Hashimoto, Ph.D.
President of International Carotenoid Society
The OCU Advanced Research Institute for Natural Science and
Technology (OCARINA) / Graduate School of Science
Osaka City University
Tel: +81-(0)6-6605-3627

And the ICS Council is now accepting proposal from Internationally renowned carotenoid scientists who are interested in hosting the 2017 Carotenoid Symposium. The candidates are encouraged to submit their proposals to Hideki Hashimoto (, the president of ICS, with the following information:

1) Provide the possible locations in the city such as university or convention center where you plan to hold the conference; also provide photographs and capacity of the auditorium if possible.

2) Briefly describe why hosting the symposium would benefit the Society and your experience in organizing conferences in the past.

3) Provide the names of the carotenoid researchers in your country and their area of expertise who could assist you in preparation of this conference; this could include a list of the local organizing committee.

4) Provide details of the social events and the program for the accompanying persons that you plan to offer.

5) Prepare the estimated costs for organizing the conference; this should include the scientific program, the social events, and other related costs.
Because with today’s changing economy it is difficult to predict the costs in 2017, only a rough estimate is needed.

6) Provide the potential sources of funding and sponsorship by various organizations in your city/country that could be used to subsidize the symposium.

7) If you plan to offer any post-conference activities such as social events and/or a scientific mini-symposium, provide a brief description of these activities.

The deadline for submitting proposals is April 30th, 2014. The ICS Council will carefully examine all submissions and select the top three candidates to present their proposals to the ICS Council at the 17th International Carotenoid Symposium in Utah, July 2014. Shortly after, the winner will be announced to the general membership.

I am looking forward to receiving your reply soon.


President of ICS

  • Registration for the 17th Triennial Meeting of the International Carotenoid Society, June 29 - July 4, 2014 at Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah is now open!! See Upcoming Conferences section
  • February 2014 issue of CARIG Newsletter now online!
  • In Memorium: A pioneer and highly respected authority on carotenoid chemistry, Professor em. Conrad H. Eugster died on 21 August 2012 in Walli-sellen, Switzerland, at the age of 91.  We have lost a famous colleague, a dear friend and a distinguished member of The International Carotenoid Society. View entire obituary here
  • Click here for a report on the 16th International Symposium, Krakow, Poland, July 17 - 22, 2011
  • ICS Awards at the 16th International Symposium on Carotenoids, July 17 – 22, 2011, Krakow Poland. Click here for details
  • The proceedings of the 16th International Symposium on Carotenoids, Krakow, Poland, July 17 – 22, 2011 is now published as a special issue of Acta Biochimica Polonica. Click here


Dynamic Action of Carotenoids in Cardioprotection and Maintenance of Cardiac Health

Oxidative stress has been considered universally and undeniably implicated in the pathogenesis of all major diseases, including those of the cardiovascular system. Oxidative stress activate transcriptional messengers, such as nuclear factor-κB, tangibly contributing to endothelial dysfunction, the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis, irreversible damage after ischemic reperfusion, and even arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation. Evidence is rapidly accumulating to support the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) as intracellular signaling molecules. Despite this connection between oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease (CVD), there are currently no recognized therapeutic interventions to address this important unmet need. Antioxidants that provide a broad, “upstream” approach via ROS/RNS quenching or free radical chain breaking seem an appropriate therapeutic option based on epidemiologic, dietary, and in vivo animal model data. Short-term dietary intervention trials suggest that diets rich in fruit and vegetable intake lead to improvements in coronary risk factors and reduce cardiovascular mortality. Carotenoids are such abundant, plant-derived, fat-soluble pigments that functions as antioxidants. They are stored in the liver or adipose tissue, and are lipid soluble by becoming incorporated into plasma lipoprotein particles during transport. For these reasons, carotenoids may represent one plausible mechanism by which fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of chronic diseases as cardiovascular disease (CVD). This review paper outlines the role of carotenoids in maintaining cardiac health and cardioprotection mediated by several mechanisms including redox signaling. Molecules 2012, 17(4), 4755-4769.

 Oral administration of β-carotene (BC) was found to exert opposite effects on plasma levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in two animal models. One study in nude mice injected via tail vein with hepatocarcinoma SK-Hep-1 cells showed that BC decreases the plasma VEGF level, whereas the other study in nude mice injected subcutaneously with prostate tumor PC-3 cells showed that BC increases the plasma VEGF level. Herein we investigated whether BC (0.5–20 μM) possesses diverse effects on VEGF secretion in SK-Hep-1, PC-3 and melanoma B16F10 cells. We found that incubation of SK-Hep-1 cells with BC (1–20 μM) for 6 h significantly decreased VEGF secretion, whereas BC (1–10 μM) significantly increased the VEGF secretion in PC-3 cells. However, these effects disappeared at 12 h of incubation. Similar effects occurred in VEGF mRNA and protein expression after treatment of SK-Hep-1 and PC-3 cells with BC for 6 h. In contrast, BC (0.5–20 μM) did not affect mRNA and protein expression and secretion of VEGF in B16F10 cells. We also found that the proliferation of SK-Hep-1 and B16F10 cells was significantly inhibited by 20 μM BC at 6 and 12 h of incubation, whereas the proliferation of PC-3 cells was significantly inhibited by 20 μM BC at 12 h of incubation. In summary, the present study demonstrated the tumor-specific effect of BC on VEGF secretion in different cancer cell lines. Molecules 2012, 17(4), 3981-3988. 

 Carotenoids are natural fat-soluble pigments that provide bright coloration to plants and animals. Dietary intake of carotenoids is inversely associated with the risk of a variety of cancers in different tissues. Preclinical studies have shown that some carotenoids have potent antitumor effects both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting potential preventive and/or therapeutic roles for the compounds. Since chemoprevention is one of the most important strategies in the control of cancer development, molecular mechanism-based cancer chemoprevention using carotenoids seems to be an attractive approach. Various carotenoids, such as β-carotene, a-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, β-cryptoxanthin, fucoxanthin, canthaxanthin and astaxanthin, have been proven to have anti-carcinogenic activity in several tissues, although high doses of β-carotene failed to exhibit chemopreventive activity in clinical trials. In this review, cancer prevention using carotenoids are reviewed and the possible mechanisms of action are described. Molecules 2012, 17(3), 3202-3242.

A listing of carotenoids with heteroatoms (X = F, Cl, Br, I, Si, N, S, Se, Fe) directly attached to the carotenoid carbon skeleton has been compiled. The 178 listed carotenoids with C,H,X atoms demonstrate that the classical division of carotenoids into hydrocarbon carotenoids (C,H) and xanthophylls (C,H,O) has become obsolete. Molecules 2012, 17(3), 2877-2928.

The mechanisms of suppression and enhancement of photocurrent/conversion efficiency (performance) in dye-sensitized solar cells, using carotenoid and chlorophyll derivatives as sensitizers, were compared systematically. The key factor to enhance the performance was found to be how to minimize interaction among the excited-state dye-sensitizer(s). In a set of retinoic-acid (RA) and carotenoic-acid (CA) sensitizers, having n conjugated double bonds, CA7 gave rise to the highest performance, which was reduced toward RA5 and CA13. The former was ascribed to the generation of triplet and the resultant singlet-triplet annihilation reaction, while the latter, to the intrinsic electron injection efficiency. In a set of shorter polyene sensitizers having different polarizabilities, the one with the highest polarizability (the highest trend of aggregate formation) exhibited the higher performance toward the lower dye concentration and the lower light intensity, contrary to our expectation. This is ascribed to a decrease in the singlet-triplet annihilation reaction. The performance of cosensitization, by a pair of pheophorbide sensitizers without and with the central metal, Mg or Zn, was enhanced by the light absorption (complementary rather than competitive), the transition-dipole moments (orthogonal rather than parallel) and by the pathways of electron injection (energetically independent rather than interactive). Molecules 2012, 17(2), 2188-2218.

 Flavonoids and carotenoids with rich structural diversity are ubiquitously present in the plant kingdom. Flavonoids, and especially their glycosides, are more hydrophilic than most carotenoids. The interaction of flavonoids with carotenoids occurs accordingly at water/lipid interfaces and has been found important for the functions of flavonoids as antioxidants in the water phase and especially for the function of carotenoids as antioxidants in the lipid phase. Based on real-time kinetic methods for the fast reactions between (iso)flavonoids and radicals of carotenoids, antioxidant synergism during protection of unsaturated lipids has been found to depend on: (i) the appropriate distribution of (iso)flavonoids at water/lipid interface, (ii) the difference between the oxidation potentials of (iso)flavonoid and carotenoid and, (iii) the presence of electron-withdrawing groups in the carotenoid for facile electron transfer. For some (unfavorable) combinations of (iso)flavonoids and carotenoids, antioxidant synergism is replaced by antagonism, despite large potential differences. For contact with the lipid phase, the lipid/water partition coefficient is of importance as a macroscopic property for the flavonoids, while intramolecular rotation towards coplanarity upon oxidation by the carotenoid radical cation has been identified by quantum mechanical calculations to be an important microscopic property. For carotenoids, anchoring in water/lipid interface by hydrophilic groups allow the carotenoids to serve as molecular wiring across membranes for electron transport. Molecules 2012, 17(2), 2140-2160. 

Oxidative stress and inflammation are established processes contributing to cardiovascular disease caused by atherosclerosis. However, antioxidant therapies tested in cardiovascular disease such as vitamin E, C and β-carotene have proved unsuccessful at reducing cardiovascular events and mortality. Although these outcomes may reflect limitations in trial design, new, more potent antioxidant therapies are being pursued. Astaxanthin, a carotenoid found in microalgae, fungi, complex plants, seafood, flamingos and quail is one such agent. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Limited, short duration and small sample size studies have assessed the effects of astaxanthin on oxidative stress and inflammation biomarkers and have investigated bioavailability and safety. So far no significant adverse events have been observed and biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation are attenuated with astaxanthin supplementation. Experimental investigations in a range of species using a cardiac ischemia-reperfusion model demonstrated cardiac muscle preservation when astaxanthin is administered either orally or intravenously prior to the induction of ischemia. Human clinical cardiovascular studies using astaxanthin therapy have not yet been reported. On the basis of the promising results of experimental cardiovascular studies and the physicochemical and antioxidant properties and safety profile of astaxanthin, clinical trials should be undertaken. Molecules, 2012, 17(2), 2030-2048.

 Carotenoids are known for their antioxidant activity and health promoting effects. One of the richest sources of carotenoids are carrots. However, about 25% of the annual production is regarded as by-products due to strict market policies. The aim of this study was to extract carotenoids from those by-products. Conventional carotenoid extraction methods require the use of organic solvents, which are costly, environmentally hazardous, and require expensive disposal procedures. Pressurized liquid extraction (PLE) utilizes conventional solvents at elevated temperatures and pressure, and it requires less solvent and shorter extraction times. The extraction solvent of choice in this study was ethanol, which is a solvent generally recognized as safe (GRAS). The extraction procedure was optimized by varying the extraction time (2–10 min) and the temperature (60–180 °C). β-Carotene was used as an indicator for carotenoids content in the carrots. The results showed that time and temperatures of extraction have significant effect on the yield of carotenoids. Increasing the flush volume during extraction did not improve the extractability of carotenoids, indicating that the extraction method was mainly desorption/diffusion controlled. Use of a dispersing agent that absorbs the moisture content was important for the efficiency of extraction. Analysing the content of β-carotene at the different length of extraction cycles showed that about 80% was recovered after around 20 min of extraction. Molecules 2012, 17(2), 1809-1818. 

 The impact of spent coffee grounds on carotenoid and chlorophyll content in lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var.capitata) was evaluated. A greenhouse pot experiment was conducted with spent coffee amounts ranging from 0% to 20% (v/v). All evaluated pigments increased proportionally to spent coffee amounts. Lutein and β-carotene levels increased up to 90% and 72%, respectively, while chlorophylls increased up to 61%. Biomass was also improved in the presence of 2.5% to 10% spent coffee, decreasing for higher amounts. Nevertheless, all plants were characterized by lower organic nitrogen content than the control ones, inversely to the spent coffee amounts, pointing to possible induced stress. Collected data suggests that plants nutritional features, with regards to these bioactive compounds, can be improved by the presence of low amounts of spent coffee grounds (up to 10%). This observation is particularly important because soil amendment with spent coffee grounds is becoming increasingly common within domestic agriculture. Still, further studies on the detailed influence of spent coffee bioactive compounds are mandatory, particularly regarding caffeine. Molecules 2012, 17(2), 1535-1547.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a common, inherited, incurable, fatal muscle wasting disease caused by deletions that disrupt the reading frame of the DMD gene such that no functional dystrophin protein is produced. Antisense oligonucleotide (AO)-directed exon skipping restores the reading frame of the DMD gene, and truncated, yet functional dystrophin protein is expressed. The aim of this study was to assess the efficiency of two novel rigid, cationic carotenoid lipids, C30-20 and C20-20, in the delivery of a phosphorodiamidate morpholino (PMO) AO, specifically designed for the targeted skipping of exon 45 of DMD mRNA in normal human skeletal muscle primary cells (hSkMCs). The cationic carotenoid lipid/PMO-AO lipoplexes yielded significant exon 45 skipping relative to a known commercial lipid, 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-ethylphosphocholine (EPC). Molecules 2012, 17(2), 1138-1148

The Role of Carotenoids in Human Skin
The human skin, as the boundary organ between the human body and the environment, is under the constant influence of free radicals (FR), both from the outside in and from the inside out. Carotenoids are known to be powerful antioxidant substances playing an essential role in the reactions of neutralization of FR (mainly reactive oxygen species ROS). Carotenoid molecules present in the tissue are capable of neutralizing several attacks of FR, especially ROS, and are then destroyed. Human skin contains carotenoids, such as α-, γ-, β-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and their isomers, which serve the living cells as a protection against oxidation. Recent studies have reported the possibility to investigate carotenoids in human skin quickly and non-invasively by spectroscopic means. Results obtained from in-vivo studies on human skin have shown that carotenoids are vital components of the antioxidative protective system of the human skin and could serve as marker substances for the overall antioxidative status. Reflecting the nutritional and stress situation of volunteers, carotenoids must be administered by means of antioxidant-rich products, e.g., in the form of fruit and vegetables. Carotenoids are degraded by stress factors of any type, inter alia, sun radiation, contact with environmental hazards, illness, etc. The kinetics of the accumulation and degradation of carotenoids in the skin have been investigated. Molecules 2011, 16(12),10491-10506

The Effect of β-Carotene Supplementation on the Pharmacokinetics of Nelfinavir and Its Active Metabolite M8 in HIV-1-infected Patients
β-Carotene supplements are often taken by individuals living with HIV-1. Contradictory results from in vitro studies suggest that β-carotene may inhibit or induce cytochrome P450 enzymes and transporters. The study objective was to investigate the effect of β-carotene on the steady-state pharmacokinetics of nelfinavir and its active metabolite M8 in HIV-1 infected individuals. Twelve hour nelfinavir pharmacokinetic analysis was conducted at baseline and after 28 days of β-carotene supplementation (25,000 IU twice daily). Nelfinavir and M8 concentrations were measured with validated assays. Non-compartmental methods were used to calculate the pharmacokinetic parameters. Geometric mean ratios comparing day 28 to day 1 area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC0–12 h), maximum (Cmax) and minimum (Cmimn) concentrations of nelfinavir and M8 are presented with 90% confidence intervals. Eleven subjects completed the study and were included in the analysis. There were no significant differences in nelfinavir AUC0–12 h and Cmin (−10%, +4%) after β-carotene supplementation. The M8 Cmin was increased by 31% while the M8 AUC0–12 h and Cmax were unchanged. During the 28 day period, mean CD4+ % and CD4+: CD8+ ratio increased significantly (p < 0.01). β-carotene supplementation increased serum carotene levels but did not cause any clinically significant difference in the nelfinavir and M8 exposure. Molecules 2012, 17(1), 688-702.

The Metal Cation Chelating Capacity of Astaxanthin. Does This Have Any Influence on Antiradical Activity?
In this Density Functional Theory study, it became apparent that astaxanthin (ASTA) may form metal ion complexes with metal cations such as Ca+2, Cu+2, Pb+2, Zn+2, Cd+2 and Hg+2. The presence of metal cations induces changes in the maximum absorption bands which are red shifted in all cases. Therefore, in the case of compounds where metal ions are interacting with ASTA, they are redder in color. Moreover, the antiradical capacity of some ASTA-metal cationic complexes was studied by assessing their vertical ionization energy and vertical electron affinity, reaching the conclusion that metal complexes are slightly better electron donors and better electron acceptors than ASTA. Molecules 2012, 17(1), 1039-1054.