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Proceedings Paper

Non-invasive laser Raman detection of lycopene and ß-carotene antioxidants in skin
Author(s): Igor V. Ermakov; Maia R. Ermakova; Werner Gellermann
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Paper Abstract

The predominant long-chain carotenoids found in the human skin are lycopene and β-carotene. They are powerful antioxidants and thought to act as scavengers for free radicals and single oxygen that are formed by excessive exposure of skin to sunlight. However the role of the particular representatives of the carotenoid antioxidants family in the skin defense mechanism is still unclear and has to be clarified. We demonstrate the opportunity for fast non-invasive selective quantitative detection of β-carotene and lycopene in human skin employing Raman spectroscopy. Analyzing Raman signals originating from the carbon-carbon double bond stretch vibrations of the molecules under blue and green laser excitation we were able to characterize quantitativly the concentrations of each carotenoid in alive human skin. In this method we take an advantage of different Raman cross-section spectral profile for β-carotene and lycopene molecules. This novel technique allows the quantitative assessment of individual carotenoid species in the skin rather then the cumulative level of long-chain carotenoids mixture as we could measure in our previous works. The required laser light exposure levels are well within safety standards. Prelimininary dichoromatic Raman measurements reveal significant differences in the carotenoid composition of different volunteer's skin: even in statistically small group of seven subjects the ratio of β-carotene-to-lycopene in their skin vary from 0.5 to 1.6. This technique holds promise as a method of rapid screening of carotenoids composition of human skin in large populations and suitable in clinical studies for assessing the risk for cutaneous diseases.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 September 2003
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4967, Genetically Engineered and Optical Probes for Biomedical Applications, (12 September 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.478403
Show Author Affiliations
Igor V. Ermakov, Univ. of Utah (United States)
Maia R. Ermakova, Univ. of Utah (United States)
Werner Gellermann, Univ. of Utah (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4967:
Genetically Engineered and Optical Probes for Biomedical Applications
Darryl J. Bornhop; Ramesh Raghavachari; Samuel I. Achilefu; Alexander P. Savitsky, Editor(s)

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