Background: Provitamin A carotenoids are an important source of dietary vitamin A for many populations. Thus, accurate and simple methods for estimating carotenoid bioefficacy are needed to evaluate the vitamin A value of test solutions and plant sources. β-Carotene bioefficacy is often estimated from the ratio of the areas under plasma isotope response curves after subjects ingest labeled β-carotene and a labeled retinyl acetate reference dose [isotope reference method (IRM)], but to our knowledge, the method has not yet been evaluated for accuracy. Objectives: Our objectives were to develop and test a physiologically based compartmental model that includes both absorptive and postabsorptive β-carotene bioconversion and to use the model to evaluate the accuracy of the IRM and a simple plasma retinol isotope ratio [(RIR), labeled β-carotene-derived retinol/labeled reference-dose-derived retinol in one plasma sample] for estimating relative bioefficacy. Methods: We used model-based compartmental analysis (Simulation, Analysis and Modeling software) to develop and apply a model that provided known values for β-carotene bioefficacy. Theoretical data for 10 subjects were generated by the model and used to determine bioefficacy by RIR and IRM; predictions were compared with known values. We also applied RIR and IRM to previously published data. Results: Plasma RIR accurately predicted β-carotene relative bioefficacy at 14 d or later. IRM also accurately predicted bioefficacy by 14 d, except that, when there was substantial postabsorptive bioconversion, IRM underestimated bioefficacy. Based on our model, 1-d predictions of relative bioefficacy include absorptive plus a portion of early postabsorptive conversion. Conclusion: The plasma RIR is a simple tracer method that accurately predicts β-carotene relative bioefficacy based on analysis of one blood sample obtained at ≥14 d after co-ingestion of labeled β-carotene and retinyl acetate. The method also provides information about the contributions of absorptive and postabsorptive conversion to total bioefficacy if an additional sample is taken at 1 d.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics