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Antibacterial and antifungal properties of lycopene.

Lycopene possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties. Gingivitis or inflammation of the gums is caused by bacterial plaque adherent to tooth surfaces. Bacteria in the plaque can produce toxins that cause inflammation of the gums around the teeth. This inflammation can cause deep pockets between the teeth and gums and loss of bone around teeth. According to one study, lycopene shows great promise for the treatment of gingivitis, especially when combined with routine oral prophylaxis [1]. Chandra et al. tested the effect of lycopene treatment in a randomized, double-blind study involving ten patients with clinical signs of gum inflammation. Half of the mount of each patient was also treated with oral prophylaxis. They found that lycopene treatment significantly decreased gum inflammation. The bleeding index of the gums treated with lycopene was further reduced by the oral prophylaxis. The also found that gum inflammation was strong negative correlated with uric acid level of the saliva.

Candida albicans is a diploid fungus that can cause opportunistic oral and genital infections in humans. Systemic fungal infections have emerged as important causes mortality in immunocompromised patients. There indications that lycopene has considerable antifungal activity against Candida albicans. Lycopene exerted potent antifungal activity on Candida albicans by causing significant damage to the cell membranes of the yeast. It showed little toxicity against human erythrocytes. More studies are required do demonstrate such effect in clinical experiment [2].

[1] Chandra RV, Prabhuji ML, Roopa DA, Ravirajan S, Kishore HC. "Efficacy of lycopene in the treatment of gingivitis: a randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial." J Nutr. 2008 Jan;138(1):49-53.
[2] Sung WS, Lee IS, Lee DG. " Damage to the cytoplasmic membrane and cell death caused by lycopene in Candida albicans." J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007 Nov;17(11):1797-804.

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