Method for the simultaneous determination of retinol and β-carotene concentrations in human tissues and plasma

Jennine M. Lunetta, Rebecca A. Zulim, Stephen R. Dueker, Yumei Lin, Vicky Flaig, Philip D Schneider, Bruce M. Wolfe, Andrew J. Clifford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


To understand differential tissue distribution of retinoids and carotenoids, as it might influence biological processes in humans, we developed and demonstrated a method for measuring them in selected human tissues. The method includes internal standards and a secondary reference standard to eliminate the need for external standard calibration and to minimize sample-handling errors. Tissues were digested (saponified) in ethanolic KOH. Retinol and β-carotene were extracted with organic solvent containing internal standards. Analytes were separated using isocratic liquid chromatography and quantified at 325 nm for retinol and 450 nm for β-carotene. Plasma was analyzed in a similar way but without saponification. Retinal-O-ethyloxime and β-apo-12′-carotenal-O-t-butyloxime served as internal standards. Plasma, breast, and fat from breast surgery patients and colon, liver, muscle, and fat from colon surgery patients were analyzed. Within-day relative standard deviations (RSDs) for plasma were <0.04 for β-carotene and <0.03 for retinol, between-day RSDs were <0.05 for β-carotene and <0.04 for retinol. Saponification ensured complete extraction of retinol and β-carotene and removal of triglycerides that "foul" chromatographic columns. It seems retinol and β-carotene concentrations in tissues and blood of cancer patients are the same or higher than those in corresponding tissues of patients without these cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-109
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2002


  • β-carotene
  • Analysis
  • Human
  • Tissue concentrations
  • Vitamin A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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