Carotenoids and intestinal harmony: exploring the link for health

Helena R. Rocha, Manuela E. Pintado, Ana M. Gomes, Marta C. Coelho*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Carotenoids, prominent lipid-soluble phytochemicals in the human diet, are responsible for vibrant colours in nature and play crucial roles in human health. While they are extensively studied for their antioxidant properties and contributions to vitamin A synthesis, their interactions with the intestinal microbiota (IM) remain poorly understood. In this study, beta (β)-carotene, lutein, lycopene, a mixture of these three pigments, and the alga Osmundea pinnatifida were submitted to simulated gastrointestinal digestion (GID) and evaluated on human faecal samples. The results showed varying effects on IM metabolic dynamics, organic acid production, and microbial composition. Carotenoid exposure influenced glucose metabolism and induced the production of organic acids, notably succinic and acetic acids, compared with the control. Microbial composition analysis revealed shifts in phyla abundance, particularly increased Pseudomonadota. The α-diversity indices demonstrated higher diversity in β-carotene and the pigments’ mixture samples, while the β-diversity analysis indicated significant dissimilarity between the control and the carotenoid sample groups. UPLC-qTOF MS analysis suggested dynamic changes in carotenoid compounds during simulated fermentation, with lutein exhibiting distinct mass ion fragmentation patterns. This comprehensive research enhances our understanding of carotenoid-IM interactions, shedding light on potential health implications and the need for tailored interventions for optimal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1599
Number of pages25
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2024


  • Fermentation
  • Intestinal microbiota
  • Metabolites
  • Modulation
  • Natural pigments


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