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β-carotene metabolism measured by accelerator mass spectrometry

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We use accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) to trace minute amounts of radioactive βcarotene as it is absorbed and metabolized in the human body (1–4). AMS is too expensive and the apparatus too rare to be used for routine analysis, but it can provide powerful insights into the absorption and metabolism of vitamin A and β-carotene, the conversion of carotenoids to vitamin A, and the factors that influence the extent of this conversion. We can then use the results from AMS studies to plan and analyze studies using less costly and more conventional techniques. AMS was developed in the 1970s for radiocarbon dating and to measure trace environmental contaminants (5, 6). AMS separates and measures individual atoms of 12C, 13C and 14C directly, unlike the older and more familiar method of liquid scintillation counting (LSC) which measures the energy emitted from 14C during its decay (7, 8). With a half life of 5760 years, only a few 14C atoms decay during reasonable counting times which severely limits the sensitivity of 14C LSC. AMS is millions of times more sensitive than liquid scintillation counting because it measures every atom of 14C in the sample. This means that we can administer tiny dosages (100 to 200 nCuries; 100 to 500 µg) of 14C-labelled carotenoids and expose our volunteers to radiation levels that are less than the amount of radiation they would receive in one trans-Atlantic flight.

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Key Details

Year 2005
Authors Betty Jane Burri
Language English
Keywords
DOI https://doi.org/10.52439/TZOR5170
DOI Number 10.52439/TZOR5170
ISBN
ISSN

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