Simultaneous detection of carotenoids and vitamin E in human plasma

Olaf Sommerburg, Lun Yi Zang, Frederik J.G.M. Van Kuijk

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30 Scopus citations


A simplified method for analysis of the antioxidants carotenoids and vitamin E in human plasma is presented. The method is based on high-performance liquid chromatography with a single column, a flow-rate gradient, and detection at 450 and 290 nm with a diode array detector. It gives good separation of the vitamin E isomers and the major carotenoids in plasma, with a 25 min analysis time. It was found that hydrolysis of triglycerides and cholesterol esters is required to obtain good recovery of non-polar carotenoids such as lycopene, α-carotene and β-carotene. Two methods were used for hydrolysis of the non-polar lipids, saponification with ethanolic KOH and digestion with an enzyme mixture of lipase and cholesterol esterase. It was found that the enzymatic digestion gave the best recoveries, better than 94% for all of the antioxidants, and preserved several carotenoids. A plasma pool is used for day to day calibration of the method, which eliminates the need for stock solutions of carotenoids that are stable for only a month due to oxidative breakdown and their tendency to crystallize when stored at -20°C in organic solvents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Grant from the National Eye Institute (No. EY-08818-03A2) to FJGMvK and by a Grant form the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, No. D-94-20537) to OS. Dr. van Kuijk is a Research to Prevent Blindness William and Mary Greve Scholar.


  • Antioxidants
  • Carotenoids
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamins


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